Some observations after 5 (?) weeks of substitute teaching:
– The paras shield you from the hardest tasks and give you the easiest students to work with. Don’t get too cocky and think you have this special education stuff down, because you might not. Also, love the paras. They’ve got your back and want you to succeed.
– The difficult days will make you question your decision to start this teaching gig. You will wonder if you made a mistake when you signed up for the ABCTE program (the alternate route to teacher certification — And a program I just signed up for, hey!).
– Sometimes the second day subbing with the same kid(s) is easier than the first day, even if the kids are just as (or more) sassy than the day before. Take comfort in this! Knowing what to expect makes a difference.
– The bar is pretty low when it comes to teacher expectations for a substitute. You may feel like you didn’t do a great job, but if you made an effort to do what the teacher asked, left decent sub notes, and generally acted like a responsible adult, you WILL be put on preferred substitute lists. Really truly. I just got asked back by a teacher I subbed for earlier this week, and in my notes from that last job I had to tell her that one of her study groups had a mini-revolt when I was working with them.
– Being a parent makes teaching SOOO much easier. I may not have 20+ kids going wild in my house on a daily basis, but I know what it’s like to deal with a toddler’s alternating stormy and sunshiny moods. In a lot of ways, teaching is just an extension of parenting, and once you’ve experienced a certain number of bad behaviors / tantrums, a lot of stuff will just bounce right off you. Wear that thick parenting skin you’ve developed with pride (and be thankful for it!).