How to Become a Preferred Substitute Teacher for Special Education
There is always a need for substitutes in every kind of classroom. This includes special education. Working in a special education classroom is very different from traditional classrooms and you must be prepared for anything. Here are some tips for becoming the preferred substitute teacher in special education classrooms.
- Be prepared for anything. If you have not worked in a specific classroom before, prepare yourself for almost anything. There is no “what to expect” guide for special education and every classroom is different.
- Don’t be easily shaken. Many things will happen that you are not expecting, but if you go with the flow the students will be more accepting of you and so will the other teachers.
- Be ready to go. Most of the time when working in special education you will have to go everywhere with a student or a small group. This includes the gym, the playground, and the cafeteria. Most of the students must have someone with them at all times.
- You will stay busy. Prepare yourself for very short breaks and very few of them. Because these students must be monitored constantly on a one on one basis you most likely will have fewer breaks than when you work in a traditional classroom.
- It may be more physically demanding. Many of the students you will be working with will either have some kind of physical limitation that will require you to assist them in that manner or they will need to hold your hand everywhere you go. This is true for all grade levels.
- The students will take a while to accept you. Many students in the special education classroom do not do well with a change in their environment. This includes when someone other than the regular teacher is in their classroom. Don’t be offended, it’s not personal. Just give them a bit of time and space and allow them to acclimate to you. If you push it may take longer.
Working in the special education classroom can be a big challenge at first, but if you push through it can become a very rewarding experience. If the teachers and students become comfortable with you they will likely request you back. Once the students become familiar with you the teacher would much prefer that the same person return each time they are gone as opposed to having to familiarize a new substitute every time.
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