Lead: The Challenge and Privilege of Teaching

Lead 5th Grade Books

I have now been teaching “solo” for a week, as I begin my job as a long-term sub at Lead Academy. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with 21 unique and talented 5th graders.

But as any teacher knows (especially any first-year teachers), this job is not easy.

Sure, I only teach two classes — Social Studies and Science. And sure, I was a chemist for almost 10 years. Shouldn’t that make it easy to teach it? Yes and no.

Yes, because I know the material, particularly in science. I don’t have to strain to recall the definitions of matter and solutions. But knowing something is very different from teaching it, and teaching it to 11 year olds.

And even being able to teach material does not necessarily mean that you are able to engage each child as he or she needs. Lead Academy has a very diverse student body (in terms of race and socioeconomic class), and numerous benefits and challenges come along with this.

Every night as I prepare for class, and every morning as I drive to work at 6:45 AM, I am thinking how I can connect with each student in a way that will motivate him or her. But once class gets going, I forget all that as I scramble through my lesson.

When I am focusing on teaching the material, I don’t do well monitoring behavior. And when I am focused on making sure they are tracking with me, I forget all sorts of things about the lesson.

When I mentioned this struggle to Mrs. Mitchell (who I am filling in for), she smiled, “Yeah, the skill of balancing that comes at about year 4 or 5 of teaching.”


Pray for Me, and for the Students

I am glad that I get to be in this class. Mr. Johnson (Principal) and Mrs. Mitchell have confidence in me, and that is soooooooo encouraging to me. They are trusting me to not just teach material, but to maintain the culture of high expectations.

I know I won’t be perfect, and I know I’m a rookie teacher (besides my one semester of teaching high school chemistry and biology a few years ago). But I don’t want to just “fill a spot” for 8 weeks. I want to move the ball down the field. I want to see these students grow, and I definitely don’t want to see them regress due to my raw teaching skills.

Please pray for me and for my students. Here are three particular ways you can pray:

  • That I would be marked by a spirit of love, manifested in individual support and high expectations for each student.
  • That the 21 students would continue to learn and mature.
  • That God would grant me the rest and strength that I need as I adjust to this new morning routine.

As I told the principal (whom I’ve known for 15 years), “I want what’s best for this class. If you think that’s me being here, great. And if not, I have no hard feelings.” Well, he chose me.

Let’s roll.

My Inspiration

Have you seen these two videos? No videos have inspired me more about education than these by Ken Robinson (“How to Escape Education’s Death Valley”) and Rita Pierson (“Every Child Needs a Champion”).

Have you seen either of these videos? Do you have any comments on them?


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