It looked like an easy job on SubFinder, a Friday morning in a junior high class Special Needs- Autism. I’ve worked in that room before, and even know several of the students from previous grades, and buildings.
Now, I would be the first to say that I am not an expert teacher. I haven’t bothered to get more college credits, other than those I needed to pass the test to become a Certified Paraprofessional in Education.
And this is the fifth year I am a TA Substitute in our school system, meaning I give my best efforts according to the schedule for a few hours, or just a day at any one classroom.
Also, I have pretty good instincts with youngsters. I have experience because I birthed and raised 3 sons who turned out pretty darn good. And they had a parade of friends I helped along the way.
I get along just fine with the Resource teacher in the room. She has told me she likes seeing my name on the Sub chart. However, other TAs in the room are not quite so understanding of how I like to run the Reading Group, or letting me decide if the student response gets a sticker or not. The kids have issues, yes, but they usually adapt to me.
Besides, I like to use the excuse that I am not there all the time, so they can see that a slightly different method can still get the desired results.
Which goes in to what happened. Last time I was in the room, I was doing a Science lesson with a kid at one end of an 8′ table, with a different TA working with a different kid at the other end of the table.
I looked over the Word List, pointing and pronouncing each word, and saying the definition of each word.
The other TA kept interrupting, telling me that the student could read the words and fill in the blanks on his own.
About the third time she spoke, I looked her way with the dead stare, which she obeyed and said no more.
I got to a word on the list that I was not sure what it might mean, so I said so, and pointed to the paragraph, and said “I’ll bet the story will tell us the definition”. At the tsk-ing tongue sound from the other end of the table, I added “it will say what that word means”.
My Sub Notes told me to allow the student to read the paragraph aloud, with as few verbal prompts as possible. He did so, carefully pronouncing each new word from the List. When he got to the word we had questioned, there was the context to tell us the meaning. He put his finger on that word, looked at me right in the face, and said “Yeah!”
He then went on to read the rest of the story, and quickly write in all the blanks on the seatwork sheet.
Speed forward to today. Different position as TA Sub, different students in the reading group, although I was not the ‘leader’ since there is a college student intern. The kid from last time came over to the table where I was helping. He wanted to be with me. Other TAs did not understand why he was not going to his own table, and were on the verge of punishment for disobeying.
It was soon after that when the regular TA came in, saying her son’s appointment was prompt, so she was able to come in earlier than expected. I would be free to leave.
When the kid saw me gathering my bag and coat, that the regular TA was there, he settled back into routine.
That might be why a Sub is supposed to keep things very ordinary, and in the same order. A little part of me likes being a “special” person, but those adults who are in the room every day have to be on alert. Any little change can bring on great drama.
I’m gonna say that I do love my job! but I’m kinda glad that today was a short hours day.
Not sure how I will fill the afternoon, but I don’t want to leave the house.
~~love and Huggs, Diane