Becoming a Substitute

The process for becoming a substitute teacher is different for every school district.

My school district is unique in that it is HUGE. While many districts have around 3 to 15 schools, mine has around 120 schools with over 82,000 students spread out over an entire county. What this means for substituting is that the county must have a huge reservoir of sub teachers across the district to meet their needs.

That also means that substitutes are in demand at almost every school. It also means that the county is motivated to move the process as quickly as possible.

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Substitute Teaching: Week One

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.

Parenthood

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

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.

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ADHD and School: Part Two

If you have never set through an IEP or 504 meeting at school, you are missing out on some fun.  No wait, I’m thinking of ice cream socials. IEPs and 504s are more like Parent-Teacher Conferences with an added helping of bureaucracy.

Not that they aren’t helpful or necessary. They are. But, the meetings are also a step before a step (a formal written plan) to take other steps (the actionable items in the written plan).

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ADHD and School: Part One

The kids are back in school! Finally, I have the house to myself during the days so that I can actually get some editing (and chores) done!

But, it’s not all sunshine and daisies, because with the new school year comes…parent-teacher conferences.

No, I’m not talking about the one every parent is invited to attend in November to review quarterly process. I’m talking about the one for ADHD kids. You know, the one that happens less than a week into the new school year.

Oh, you didn’t know about that one? Well, let me tell you…

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In The Garden

A couple of years ago, I volunteered to be the chairperson the PTO Beautification Committee at my eldest son’s elementary school.  I am the poster child for biting off more than I can chew, especially in an area where I have literally NO expertise.  My skills lie in the organization, planning, and detailed checklists. Not in actually doing stuff like designing or creating spaces.  So, for me gardening is a whole new world I don’t feel like I really understand or belong in.

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My Issue with Black History Month

As the mother of a second-grader in the middle of February, I am noticing a few things I dislike about how Black History Month is addressed in schools.

This month, he brought home some worksheets about various different historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman and Jackie Robinson.  Together, we helped answer the questions together about them.  He felt a connection to Harriet Tubman because she is also from Maryland (to an 8-year-old that is relatable).  But there was something missing from his homework.

Context.

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