I have worked in 2/3 all year. Next year I will be doing 4/5. It is a lot of new content for me, especially the math. I know this happens all the time. What is the best way to prepare yourself for teaching the new content besides reading through the TEs and reviewing the grade level standards? Any other tips for upgrading my content knowledge so that I am prepared to teach these kids? Thanks in advance.

I would find out what the 6th grade curriculum and expectations look like to make sure you are preparing them for their future.

Absolutely, Brendan. And take a look at what they do the year before, so you'll know what they're coming into your class knowing. In fact, dump the Teacher's Editions. Do every problem yourself.

When I taught Algebra I two years ago I looked at both what they did in 8th grade math and what they will do in Geometry the following years. I got ahold of the syllabi and textbooks and went from there. History though is a bit different. There is no way I can expect a Freshman Western Civ. Teacher to know all the the material in US History II just starting out. I do, however, reconfigure my faculty every year, so that no one gets too comfortable and if we get into a tiff we can all teach just about any course. I don't ever want to run into a problem where I need to pull a teacher to cover a maternity leave and they have no expertise in the subject.

I tutor math. I see 8th graders in a world of hurt because somebody back in 3rd or 4th grade dropped the ball on times tables. PLEASE don't let them leave your class until they have them memorized from zero to 12, backwards & forwards. Being able to recognize (not calculate on a machine) the factors and multiples of a particular number, will help the easily learn to manipulate fractions, identify GCF and LCM, which segues right into Algebra... I would give a 5-minute 100-problem times tables quiz at least every other day. And I recommend flash cards for those who aren't up to speed.

Groovy, when I taught 7th grade, my "do now" for an entire trimester was times tables. (Trimester 2 was perfect squares and cubes.) I taught a lot of those same kids a year ago as freshmen. I can't tell you how great they did with factoring, simply because they knew their times tables.

Can you explain what you mean by do every problem yourself? I am not clear on what you are saying exactly...

If your homework assignment is page 74, 1-67 odds, then YOU do each of those problems yourself; no cheating and using the answers in the back of the book or in the teacher's manual. Of course, you can do a lot of them NOW, then use the Teacher's Manual during the school year. But don't ever assign a problem to a kid that you haven't yet done yourself.

...or assign them a book to read that you haven't read yourself, or a writing assignment that you haven't tried, etc.

This is why I wouldn't want to be hired after school has started (again) or a few days before school starts (and this happens all the time). I really need to have enough time to study the curriculum.

Sure. Ideallly you would have all summer to prep. But things aren't always ideal. If you have to work fast, you do. One Saturday evening, about 18 years ago, I was returning the van to school after coaching Speech and Debate. Where the keys go there was a sign: "Alice, please see me before you leave. I'm in my office." from the principal. (Obviously before the days of cell phones.) So I ran down to his office. Turns out that the Calculus teacher (a brother in the same religious order) had been rushed to the hospital and was being prepped for surgery. Effective Monday morning, period 1, I was teaching Intro to Calculus. (Oh, and by the way, as department chair, I had to prep 3 teachers to pick up Precalculus.) I went home, had a glass of wine, and got started. I organized the Precalc notes I was using, and went into school the next day to Xerox 4 copies of them, along with my lesson plans. I spent the rest of that day, and a good part of the next few weekends prepping Calculus. The last time I had seen Calc was during the Carter administration, so it wasn't something that "just needed brushing up on"-- I had to teach it to myself all over again. Was it ideal? No, of course not. But did I do a good job? Yes, I think I did. I went in on Monday, was perfectly honest with the kids-- remember, high school seniors- and went back to the beginning of the chapter they were learning. And I taught Calculus. I guess my point is that it doesn't have to be "ideal" to work, as long as we as teachers are willing to put in the time and effort to make it work.

I was hired for my first long-term assignment on a Monday afternoon and started on Wednesday morning--in a classroom where the teacher had, almost literally, stripped when she left. The interview for my first contract position was on the Thursday evening after school started, I observed on Friday and then started on Monday morning. In both cases the lack of planning time caused some panic, but all worked out in the end.

I appreciate all of your comments. I do have some time to get prepared, almost two six weeks. But I was wondering, where to start? I guess I should go to the school and lug home a lot of their text books and read them. And download the standards. And yes, I will have to relearn some of that math. It is one thing to know it, something else to teach it.