How do I assist students in becoming confident mathematicians?


  • develop mathematical habits of mind
  • model and nurture a growth mindset with your students
  • encourage risk-taking in problem-solving
  • value mistakes as learning opportunities
  • notice, name and nurture core and curricular competencies
  • build a community of thinkers
  • provide time and space for student reflection on learning, growth, and next steps


Tracy Johnston Zager's book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had, discusses mathematical habits of mind and how to encourage mathematical thinking in students.

Tracy suggests introducing students to the question about what is math through mathematical scavenger hunts, picture books, and online videos. She also emphasizes the importance of connecting what is happening in our classrooms with what mathematicians do :

"I can't emphasize this point enough: this mini-unit [What do Mathematicians Do?, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had page 17] has to connect to the rest of math class. It makes no sense to spend a few days developing a definition of doing mathematics that includes powerful words, such as notice, wonder, imagine, ask, investigate, figure, reason, connect, and prove, and then switch back to downloading procedures through "I do, we do, you do" demonstratations, guided practice and drills. Students won't buy it either. They're smart, and they learn more from our actions than our words. If we want students to build this complex, authentic understanding of the discipline of mathematics, they need to engage in these wonderful verbs as they learn new mathematical content throughout the year."

Tracy Johnston Zager, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had, page 28