Tuesday, February 13, 2018

So You Want to Be a Substitute Paraeducator

My "rookie card"
Have you ever wondered how to add to your financial well being while partaking in your love of the great outdoors?  Have you dreamed of nurturing young minds while trying to stave off the flu? Do you want to be personally responsible for the safety of 100 children who are hopped up on too much sugar and not enough sleep?

Welcome to the exciting and rewarding career of the Substitute Paraeducator!

Your job as a substitute paraeducator is to fill in as teacher's aid wherever there's a need.  From playground to lunchroom to classroom, the substitute paraeducator (or "SPare") is the lifeline of any school district.

The tools of the SPare are vital to your success with the students.  Having been in the position for over four years, I've learned the all-important Honest Essentials for Lunch and Playground (or HELP):

-You will need a whistle to be heard over the joyful screams/angry yelling of the playground. (Occasionally you may want to break out the bullhorn.)  One whistle means "I see you about to throw that ball at Timmy's face," two whistles means "Hey, stop standing on top of the fence," and three whistles means "The recess teachers give up--everyone back to class!"

*Actual playground may appear more chaotic.
-Always wear easily-washable, dark-colored, water-proof clothing. No white, no silk, no Italian leather heels. Recess happens in all sorts of weather;  there will be mud, occasionally mucus, and if you're filling in during a stomach flu epidemic, vomit. Luckily the only time I've been barfed on was during the spring and I was wearing flip flops. Wash and Wear is key to your survival!

-Smell nice and dress for success (SNADFS). Kids will tell you if they think you stink. On days I'm going to be at the school I always use my scented lotion and make sure I don't look like I expect to be vomited on. My hope is if the kids want to be near me (because I smell nice) and present myself as someone deserving respect, they will not scream in my face or vomit on me.

-Speaking of communicable diseases, you will also want to invest in some hand sanitizer.  Keep in mind the reason you got today's job is because another employee finally succumbed to the miasma of germs doing the back stoke through the school.  While I generally avoid all the antibacterial hype, I've seen enough fingers in noses to justify a case of that alcohol-laden slime.

Thank you, First Graders!
It may seem to the uninitiated that the career track of a SPare is fraught with danger (lice, and tantrums, and barf--Oh My!), but the secret perk of this position is what keeps me coming back.  You, as someone who has not spent the last three hours trying to get them to sit still and work, walk into that school like it's party time. You are a friendly face and fresh set of ears, taking them to the playground and letting them run and swing.  It's like you're the fun parent (though your own kids might think otherwise).  And to those hard working teachers, you are much needed reinforcements. The SPare is kind of the rock star of substitutes. (But you will never be as cool as the Volunteer Dad. If there is a Volunteer Dad anywhere on school grounds, you are chopped liver.)

Call your local school district today so you too can start your exciting journey to the wonderful world of Substitute Paraeducating! 

(No, seriously, we need more subs--it's cold and flu season. Apply here.)

Walking into the school during cold and flu season