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Starting All Over Again

September 4, 2016

As I sit at my dining room table on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, I am blown away by all there is for me to learn.  In August, I accepted a long-term-sub position in a local school system teaching 5th grade math, English, science, and history.  While I’ve taught 5th grade before (and loved doing it), I’ve spent the last twenty school years teaching History and English to students ranging from Kindergarten through 11th grade.  

Luckily, I am taking over for one of the most organized teachers I have ever met and have dozens of Google docs meant to relay the valuable information I will need to successfully transition into the position.  Yet, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to learn and master in order to be the best substitute I can be.  I have two primary goals for this job:  First and foremost is to teach my classes in the best way possible so when the teacher returns in December, she is right where she wants her classes to be.  My second goal is to learn as much as possible about the teaching of Math and English and to learn systems and methodologies that will make me a better teacher in the future.

To help me in the weeks to come, I’ve decided to create monthly goals to help stay focused on what is important and to prepare me to have as big an impact on my students as possible.  Here are my first five goals:

  1. Learn the names of all the faculty and 5th grade students at my new school.
  2. Learn about Google Classroom as a way of providing feedback and helping students to keep their work organized.
  3. Learn about the emPOWER writing program because I already know the impact that brain frames can have helping students organize and put their knowledge and ideas into writing.
  4. Learn the math program EnGageNY so that I will improve my skills as a math teacher while finding applicable methodologies and strategies that I can use when teaching Humanities.
  5. Learn the ins and outs of the public school system.  While I’ve taught at some of the best private schools in the country, public schools are totally new to me, and I want to fit into my new school and not be “that guy” who is always a step behind.

For those of you who have taught at a public school or served as long-term-sub, can you think of anything else I should be focusing on as I start out?  Thanks in advance for your advice.


  1. Linda Petry permalink

    All excellent goals! For social studies, talk about current events. Have a different kid bring in an article each day (or once a week) so that kids know what is going on in the world. For math, mean, median, mode and range are especially important. You can have a jar of ‘something’ and use their guesses as the numbers. At the end, there could be a prize or what is in the jar (jelly beans, pennies, Legos, post-it notes, etc). I’m sure there is a curriculum that you have to follow- all the items you are required to teach to a fifth grader. Most importantly, get to know the kids and show them you care. There’s a saying, ” You can’t show kids what you know until kids know how much you care.” Best wishes for a great year!

  2. Thanks Linda for the great comment!

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