1st Edition

6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching

By Nicora Placa Copyright 2023

    In 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching, Nicora Placa lays out a clear path to help you become a trusted and effective math coach. Her “6 Tools” are flexible structures that you and your colleagues can use to learn together:

    1. Building Teams: Fostering a Learning Community
    2. Student Interviews: Learning to Listen
    3. Visiting Classrooms: Developing Your Lens
    4. Learning Walks: Focusing the Team on Students’ Thinking
    5. Rehearsing Routines: Practicing with Colleagues
    6. Lesson Study: Learning Collectively with Voice, Choice, and Agency

    In this easy-to-use, practical guide, Placa introduces each of the 6 Tools with classroom vignettes, step-by-step guidelines for rollout, connections to the literature, resources for further research, planning templates, and opportunities for you to adapt the tool for your particular context.

    Whether you're a new coach who loves teaching math to children but is new to adult education, or a more experienced coach who is looking for new strategies to engage your teams, 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching can help you create learning opportunities that honor teachers as professionals. With a collaborative coaching approach, you can improve teaching and learning across your school and for all your students.

    "There’s so much to love about how 6 Tools is constructed." Elham Kazemi

    What is Collaborative Coaching?

    Tool 1: Building Teams

    Tool 2: Student Interviews

    Tool 3: Visiting Classrooms

    Tool 4: Learning Walks

    Tool 5: Rehearsing Routines

    Tool 6: Lesson Study


    Nicora Placa loves teaching math in New York City, and supporting students and teachers continues to guide her work. Currently, Nicora is an assistant professor at Hunter College, where she teaches pre-service educators and conducts research on professional development. Nicora continues to work with schools to provide collaborative coaching and professional development support.

    6 Tools tells the story of what it means to be an inspired mathematics coach guided by equity principles and the belief that all students can achieve to the highest levels. Both honest and wise, Nicora deftly outlines the work of coaches who center students’ thinking and create a space for teachers to nurture their learning lives. This book will live on my desk with its well-worn and dog-eared pages, my go-to resource for all things coaching.” —Polly Wagner, Math Coach and Consultant

    “In 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching, Nicora Placa advocates for practical recommendations to generate sustainable growth in mathematics teaching and learning. Nicora shares expert knowledge for developing professional learning communities where mathematics coaching becomes a transformational experience for everyone involved. 6 Tools is an essential resource for mathematics coaches and instructional leaders at any point in their careers.” —Brea Ratliff, Past President, Benjamin Banneker Association

    “Everything I learned about quality math instruction I attribute to my work with Nicora Placa. Through the lesson study framework, she was able create a safe and productive experience that allowed both teachers and administrators to learn from each other, and from our students. The student interview process taught me the importance of understanding student thinking and changed the way I questioned students. My hope is that 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching will allow more coaches to provide their teachers with engaging and impactful professional development, as I was so lucky to experience.” —Kathryn Bingman, Math Teacher

    “In 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching, Nicora Placa shares from personal experiences and research how to make the most impact as a mathematics coach - utilizing the power of coaching teams. Throughout the book, you will connect with stories from the field and explore a variety of tools and strategies that support teams collaborating and learning with one another. If you are looking for new ways to deepen your mathematics coaching skills with collaborative teams, then you absolutely have the right book in your hands.” —Mona Toncheff, NCSM Past President and Math Coach

    “Nicora Placa's 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coachingis full of rich, useful content complemented with reflection for deeper learning and ready-to-use activities and protocols every coach will use. This book will be the go-to for new coaches, experienced coaches, and anyone who supports them!” —John SanGiovanni, Howard County Public School System Mathematics Coordinator

    “As an elementary administrator, I've grown to appreciate the intersection of math content and human influence. Nicora Placa's 6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching is a specific, accessible, and useful book for administrators, teachers, and coaches who want to both improve math instruction for students and nurture a fulfilling, collaborative, professional culture for educators.” —Timothy Livingston, Assistant Principal, former Math Coach and Teacher

    6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching is an excellent resource that allows you to craft coaching strategies that are tailored to your situation and the teachers and coaches you work with, rather than presenting a one-size-fits-all approach. The alignment between student and teacher learning sets the stage for the rest of the book, beginning with establishing a learning community. Specific tasks are included throughout to support the construction of a collaborative coaching arrangement.” —Barbara Dougherty, Consultant, Professor of Mathematics Education

    "6 Tools for Collaborative Mathematics Coaching is a book I wish I would have had years ago. The 6 tools that Nicora explains are extremely useful whether you are a new coach or a veteran coach who truly want to impact teacher practices and student achievement. Not only does Nicora share what has been effective when coaching but she also shares what hasn’t gone well and how she reflects and makes changes. Being authentic and transparent really resonates as coaching is not an easy job. There is not a one-size-fits all approach. Stop and Jots within each chapter were useful for self reflection. I also thought the question stems, facilitators questions, and templates Nicora provided were an excellent resource that coaches can add to their toolboxes and use immediately with teachers and students." —Nicole Conlisk, Math Coach