I’ll post on another day about the process of becoming a substitute teacher in my particular district. The only thing you really need to understand for this post is that there is basically no substitute training. The only “training” is legal requirements and watching a video about classroom management.
None of these things prepared me for my first day of substituting.
The only thing that really prepared me at all was: parenthood. I elected to sub at schools my children attend. That means that I already had a level of familiarity with the staff, the facilities, & the student body. This was especially important since they attend two very different schools. One is a typical elementary school. The other is an education center for kids with severe disabilities.
Teacher Assistant Subbing
I decided to start out as a Teacher Assistant (TA) sub to get my feet wet. Many schools have some sort of Para or TA that also needs substitutes. These positions can help you get used to a new school and classroom setting. It can also slowly introduce you to other staff around the school.
The positions typically pay a little less but lack the responsibility of a full teacher. Another challenge, is that TA positions are sometimes for special needs classrooms, which makes the pay seem too low for the required work. Sometimes it is, but those classes need subs just as much as the others do!
Special education can be very intimidating. As a parent to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 3 (ASD3), which is the end of the spectrum which requires significant support, this was not a deterrent for me. The other deterrent is often the lack of teacher sub needs. A classroom may have 1 teacher with 2-4 assistants, and that assistant job pay is less desirable.Many subs go into special education (SpEd) settings with unreasonable expectations. I didn’t have this barrier.
Unfortunately, I found little to no resources anywhere on special needs/special education substituting. I’ll update more on this topic later.
If you want to sub SpEd, here are some quick tips:
1. Nobody needs your pity. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) feeling sad about their disabilities or needs.
2. Don’t be intimidated by bodily functions. Some kids drool, some need help toileting or changing diapers, & some need help feeding.
3. If you need help, just ask. Usually, the staff will guide you through everything, but don’t just stand around, ask where you should help.