The relationship between acquisitionism and participationism is a challenge in research on and with teachers. This study uses a patterns-of-participation framework (PoP), which aims to develop coherent and dynamic understandings of teaching as well as to meet the conceptual and methodological problems of other approaches. The paper presents PoP theoretically, but also illustrates its empirical use. It presents a novice teacher, Anna, who often engages with mathematics and with aspects of ‘the reform’ in ways that link well with how she builds relationships with her students and positions herself in her team of teachers. However, in other situations her engagement with mathematics is overshadowed by her involvement in other practices. The study suggests that there is some potential in PoP in spite of methodological difficulties.