Prepare to Sub in Special Education Classrooms

Special education classrooms can intimidate some substitute teachers but if you are willing to look past some unpredictable behaviors, students in these programs can leave some indelible marks on both your mind and your heart. If you don’t have experience working with kids with developmental disabilities, you may benefit from some additional training before you enter the classroom. There are plenty of ways to gain confidence and knowledge that can help you enjoy many successful days in classrooms that many substitutes would rather decline simply because they’re unprepared.


There are many organizations that serve people of all ages with developmental disabilities. Some of these agencies provide training to help volunteers understand the population they will be working with. That training can also help you learn how to best communicate and interact with those you may serve as a substitute teacher. You will most likely find opportunities with a wide range of commitment levels. Perhaps you want to help at a one-day event to see if special education is something that may interest you. If you enjoy the experience, you could expand and join a weekly program or even spend time each day serving in a vocational training setting for those with developmental delays. 

Professional Organizations

Look to professional organizations for webinars, articles, or podcasts that can help you understand the joys and challenges of teaching in a special education setting. Remember, there is a wide range of ability within special education. The learning that a teachers experience by working with these students is varied and interesting. 

Keep an Open Mind

If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet and connect with someone with a developmental disability or other delays, you may not realize what you’ve been missing. Often times, students who fall into this category are eager to learn, enter the classroom with joy, extend love to teachers, and express emotion in ways that will help you learn something deeper about your own life.

Contact us for more information on substitute teaching tips.

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