These ideas will help make teaching a special education class an enjoyable experience for the substitute teacher.
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This is Greg Colin substitute teachers lounge, I don't want you to be deceived by the title because I'm not going to try to convince you one way or another on whether you want to be a sub for a special education class. But I will share with you my experiences and tell you why I continue to from time to time pick up one of those classes, and personally enjoyed very much. Oh, right, it is January 8 2023. Let me just say something real quick. Some of you have mentioned on the substitute teachers lounge Facebook page, why I changed the opening to the podcast to just music and not having the kids say substitute teachers lounge. There's a lot of people that like that. But the reason I did it is that was a recording that was made with a bunch of sixth graders who are now sophomores. And I played it for them the other day, and they laugh, but they kind of cringe at the same time. And I said, I can tell from them that it wouldn't bother them at all if I didn't play that anymore. So that's why we have a little bit different opening. So in speaking of substitute teachers lounge, Facebook group, we're up to about 1800 Members, we have, I don't want to say heat it but very interesting, probably more controversial discussions on there than we would probably have that I would bring up on this podcast. So I would encourage you to go there if you haven't already. But the reason I'm talking about this topic today special education is because it was brought up some by somebody, they complimented me about the podcast, and then they said would you do one on special ed. Now, of course, I don't have the credentials to be a special education teacher, I only have the credentials to be a sub for any class that needs me. But I am going to tell you perspective of a substitute teacher and special education. I will mention in our area, we don't refer to it, obviously, the degree that you have might have emphasis in special education. Normally, when I see a sub listing pop up for a class, it will say either Elementary Ed, middle school ed or high school education, or it will say exceptional children. And that is the phrase that you use for special education in this area. I like that phrase. But it also lets the substitute know, as long as they're educated on that phrase, that this is a class that will need a little bit extra help a little bit extra attention. It's traditionally a special education class. And we want you to know that before you accept it. Now, I'll be honest with you, it really took a couple of pushes to get me to try special education. It's still not something I seek out. Although ironically, just before I started recording this podcast, a special Exceptional Children job popped up. And it's one I did before and really enjoyed it. So I went ahead and accepted it. I would typically I accept them. When I know the teacher, I know the students perhaps and many times though it's because the school has asked me to teach in that area. So there are several different types of special education situations. The first one the most basic one is maybe a student or two in a regular class needs some extra help. Typically when that happens, and you sub for that class, you will have a co teacher had this happened not too long ago, I was teaching for a seventh grade math class. And the period, I noticed that the notes of the teacher left me and say, she told me you will have co teachers in this period. In fact, there was two or three of them now when when you see that, you know that they're there for a certain number of students. So you know, that might be your most challenging class. At the same time. You've got all other teachers there that are used to and trained to help him with that child. And in fact, one of the children in this class did have to be escorted out of the room for the teacher wasn't hurting anybody. He was just being a disruption. So there's that version of special education. The other is when you accept the special education class it shows up as exempt exceptional children. You go in there Here's what a typical special education class would be like. And I know this could vary from area to area. But I will say every special education class I have accepted, has been set up in this manner. So here's what I would tell you to expect. For the most part, you would expect to have much smaller classes, these students need additional help. So you will have smaller classes so that you can offer that additional help. My experience has been that they are very pleasant students, they just might struggle with some of the classes that you are teaching them. Normally, the special education class teachers always leave great notes, you and the last one I taught and in fact, the one that I'm going back to that I just accepted, she had a class without helpers that in the first period, that was a pretty good class, I had to help them it was a little bit bigger, but there was really no need for a co teacher to be in there, you really didn't need it. But then as the day progressed, it was smaller classes of students that need additional help. Now, of course, substitute teachers aren't trained in special education. So very often, my job was to accompany those students into a different classroom. And it would be a classroom where they were combined with other students, and then I would be in there to assist the teacher. So I became a co teacher, she had three classes like that, that day, I became the CO teacher. And my emphasis, I couldn't help anybody, of course, but my emphasis would be to keep my eye on the students that I knew that were technically, my students, I had a roster, the other teacher typically would turn in the attendance but I had a roster. And I was there really didn't say anything, unless the teacher asked me to help with something, I made sure that I always volunteered to hand out forms that are always helped that if I saw the teacher was doing something that she just needed to help, I always volunteered to help because otherwise, I felt like I was just standing around not doing much. And more often than not, the special education classes I had was a situation where I would rotate among classrooms, and then help that teacher in that classroom. In other words, they were the teacher, I was the CO teacher there to help. On occasion, like I briefly mentioned earlier, when I mentioned somebody had to escort a teacher or a student, I should say, out of the classroom, that was with another group that wasn't necessarily a special education class. I have had some schools that it was a small special education class, that I stayed in the room the whole time, and CO teachers came in to help me. And the teacher had left assignment so to speak. So that's the other version of it. The times I've done that I only had one situation where a student got frustrated that he got a question wrong. And then I tried to be very diplomatic, I would tell him I've gotten questions wrong to before in my life, and I would walk him through it and maybe why it was wrong and that type of thing. But I love my special education class experiences. Is it always the first class that I seek out? No, but it is a class that I always look forward to if that's my assignment for the day. So now there is one more level of special education that I have done in our area. It's called FMD. It is the students that need a whole lot of help and may not reach the level of education that we're striving for. For the other students. They're the ones that as a precaution, perhaps they have their own bathroom facilities in the classroom. There are things around even in middle school, high school, there are things sitting around such as modeling clay, playing cards, simple games that they can do to keep themselves occupied during a lot of breaks. We take this group outside quite often, it's set up so that Maybe the lessons are things we flash up on the board and we ask them to go point to the answer and they walk up there, sometimes you won't get them to speak much, sometimes you won't get them to stop talking. So those are the ones that need a lot of additional help. Now, I will say this, I've only done that class one time, I would do it again, if I was asked. So it's not by choice that I've only done it one time, you can't really tell that that's the class you're talking about. If it pops up on frontline, it still just says, exceptional children. But the day I spent with them was one of the most enjoyable classes I've ever had. I became friends with those kids, those kids needed friends, we went outside a couple of times I played, I forget the name, you use something like a lacrosse type handle thing that that you pass a ball back and forth to each other. I played cards with them, I joked around with them. And since after that happened, I made sure if I was there, and perhaps in the cafeteria during my lunch period, they all eat together with their teachers, I would sit down and talk with them. And they would smile and say things like, I remember you. And that was just an enjoyable day. And I was glad I did it. So again, don't turn down a special education plans, especially if you're asked specifically specifically about the parental principal, I would say it even this way, if the principal asked you to do it, I don't think they're doing it just because they're desperate, desperate and can't find anybody else. I think they're doing it because they know they can depend on you to go in there and do a job, a good job being example to those kids, and do really well. So is special education a challenge it is I'm proud of my son in law. He's a special education teacher. I'm proud of a lot of people that I know of special education teachers, the ones that I have met, they, they really have a special place in their heart for those kids, I think you will to even say this, there's a part of me that feels like the special education classes, generally speaking, require less discipline than the other classes. And if you think about it, here's why they're smaller, it's easier to show attention for student one on one. And you don't have the kids that just love to get attention. They act up in class all the time, that can still happen. But as a role, you've got some of those kids in every class that you teach outside the special education room, some to the point that you have to send to the office, what generally speaking, the special education classes I have been in have not been like that. And I have enjoyed the fact that I was in those classes. So to kind of close, here's what I would encourage you to do. It's January, I hate the R word. I hate resolutions. But do this for me. And I'll tell you what, I promise I'll do something for you. I've said for over a year now that I want to start doing more elementary education. If you book yourself a special education class, I booked myself an elementary education class. I'll be nervous about it. In fact, the things I heard having my elementary education, not because the kids are bad. But just because they do things that are unruly and unmanageable, and that type of thing. Let's make a deal. I'll try to do a class or two of elementary education. Go ahead and try that special education. Obviously, the stories I have told you about have been in middle school and high school. I've loved them. Again, I loved them enough that there's actually two or three special education teachers that when I see their name pop up, I take their class right away. Now most usually, it's a class that I've already had previously in the year because I know I'm going to have the same students in there and I'm used to them and I enjoyed them all that kind of thing. So that's the reason I take it and maybe I wouldn't be as excited about taking it if I hadn't made the student yet, but I would still give it a shot. So that's what our lesson is today. I hope that is sufficient to as a substitute teacher. It's different for a sub than it heater that's been trained their whole life to teach these type of students, these types of students, they're so easy to love. They're so easy to give teaching attention to. In fact, I'll say it like this, maybe this is the best way to close. You will be surprised, I think how much you enjoy that special education class. So start watching for them as this new year progresses. And when you see one of the special education classes, give it a shot, I think you're gonna like it and then go to the substitute teachers lounge Facebook page, and I would love for you to share your experiences on teaching that class. One final reminder, I did interview a special education teacher. It's been a while it's way back on episode 11. That was September 1 2019. So if you'd like to hear that, please go back and listen to that and I think you enjoy it.