I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years, all of them related to my love of solving problems and my passion for helping teachers like yourself. After 16 years as a teacher, administrator and math coach, I know what it’s like to balance the challenges of your math classroom with striving to reach your full potential as an educator. In 2011 I made a decision to dedicate more time to speaking and training teachers. Currently I’m co-authoring a series of K-12 mathematics textbooks with my wife Amy – a gifted and experienced teacher in her own right – for Shing Lee Publishers, one of Singapore’s leading education publishing houses.
When my wife Amy and I relocated from the chilly Northeast to the balmy shores of Martin County, Florida, my plan was to figure out my plan when I got there. Since I’ve always been a risk-taker, this didn’t bother me in the least.
Fate landed me a job teaching math at one of the local high schools. Armed with nothing more than a B.A. in Psychology (with a minor in General Science) and more than my fair share of dumb bravery, I agreed. And, believe it or not, it wasn’t a train wreck – thanks to my incredibly supportive math colleagues; they gave me all the tools I needed to survive in a high school math classroom. Outside the classroom, however, I still needed to be certified. And so back to school I went.
One B.A. in Mathematics and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction later, I became a teaching machine: I taught in high schools, community colleges, prisons – anywhere there were students and an opportunity to teach them. I also learned firsthand about the challenges of school politics, parents, and most of all, getting students to truly understand and retain what we teach. As my skills grew, so did my love for helping teachers meet their day-to-day challenges, and I began looking for ways to do more teacher training.
An important step in my own development, I felt, was to pursue my doctorate in mathematics. Unfortunately, though, there were no good mathematics education programs in my area. While I was exploring my options, fate intervened again: Amy was finishing up her own doctorate in Educational leadership, as well as having our first child! We knew we wanted to raise our family near her family in New York, and besides, we were homesick. Moving back to New York would also mean that I’d be close to Columbia University! So back up Interstate 95 we went.
I started my new teaching job in Bedford the same year I also started my doctoral studies at Columbia. By the time I finished six years later, in 2010, I was also serving as chair of my department. But by 2011, I found myself spending far more time on administrative duties than on teaching or teacher training. Being department chair was satisfying my desire to work with teachers…but it wasn’t as rewarding as I’d hoped. So I stepped down as chair and went back to teaching full time. I decided to look for opportunities outside of public education as a consultant, trainer and speaker. And finally, my two professional passions merged to form the basis of my own business, where I could control my time and work directly with teachers, doing exactly what I wanted to do. .
What I’ve found in my workshops is that all teachers, regardless of subject, experience or age, face the same challenges. Our jobs change so rapidly; we’re expected to do so much more with so much less than we ever have – with little, if any, support. There’s also a great shortage of quality professional development in mathematics, and I wanted to help solve that problem.
3R Industries is Born
So now I’ve come full circle, been around the block and through the wringer. Now it’s time for me to pay it forward and share what I’ve learned.
I do this by:
Speaking at conferences around the country about topics in math education;
Coaching teachers in mathematics pedagogy and the Singapore Approach to teaching math;
Co-authoring a series of K-12 mathematics textbooks for Shing Lee Publishers;
Blogging at billtozzo.com about anything in math education that strikes my interest.
Skip the Fads and Jargon: My Philosophy of Teaching and Training
The same traits that made me a good teacher are the ones that keep me brave in the face of administration. I’m a less-is-more coach who believes in keeping things simple, and not asking teachers to jump through more hoops. I take a no-nonsense approach to achieving my goals – and helping you achieve your own. And because I’m a minimalist, I don’t spend time chasing every educational fad. Everything I teach has a solid grounding in proven research from all over the world.
Some Fun Facts about Me that You May (or May Not) Have Guessed
- I’d rather be hanging out with my kids and wife. I love reading, usually business and professional development books.
- I don’t read much fiction; I stick to books that help me grow as a professional. But I do watch the Lord of the Rings movies repeatedly with my boys.
- We love to camp, travel and vacation in our RV. You might find us at the beach, in the mountains, or at Assateague Island in Virginia, our favorite place in the world. And, of course, Disney World.
- I’d rather eat Italian food and Italian pastries than just about anything else, although BBQ runs a close second place.
- The smallest member of the Tozzo family is our Australian Cattle Dog – her name is Lucy. She’s a frisbee maniac who loves camping, swimming and playing with the boys.
It’s hard enough for me to keep track of where I’ve been and when, so you might find this as helpful as I do:
- 2000: Amy and I head south to start teaching in sunny Martin County, Florida.
- 2003: I finish my second B.A. in mathematics, as well as an M.A.
- 2004: Child #1 born. I’m back in NY, beginning work on my doctorate and starting a job as a mathematics teacher in Bedford.
- 2007: I accept the position as Mathematics Department Chair in Bedford, NY.
- 2011: I step down from my position as Department Chair and back into the full-time classroom, making more time to pursue speaking and coaching outside of my district.
- 2012: I start 3R Industries, Inc.