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Thread: Looking for any suggestions for a new quad substitute teacher

  1. #1

    Looking for any suggestions for a new quad substitute teacher

    I am a C 4/5 quadriplegic and I finally received my substitute teaching permit. I'm really looking forward to getting back to work, but I'm also anxious about what it will be like inside the classrooms since I have no experience.

    Are there any educators out there that might be able to Offer any advice or suggestions? Classroom safety tips? Many thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    I don't have that much experience, and I'm not a substitute teacher. However, I was a volunteer / academic outreach at one time (still ambulatory then but with a service dog) - but spend some time with kids now, too, being a chair user.

    The kids will likely wonder a little bit about your disability. This is kid curiosity. I'd prepare a short introduction (just as any sub teacher would), but be ready to attach a paragraph to it about your disability / chair, etc if the kids ask about it. Depending on the age of the kids, I'd consider a short safety lesson, if relevant ("wear your helmet", "wear your seatbelt," etc.) If you don't want to explain specifics, you can just say something like, "well, people get injured in lots of ways, but wearing your helmet / seatbelt / looking for cars / etc" will help you not get hurt. I'm mostly imagining this in an elementary school classroom although the same topics would apply all the way to high school (just edit your speech a bit).

    Classroom wise it could possibly be a tight fit. Most kids would be willing to help and will likely find it fun to rearrange the classroom a bit to help you get through easier. You will likely find many built-in helpers for dropped items, too.

    Chair safety, I'm assuming that you're in a powerchair and probably have a limited field of vision (due to chair and lack of ability to be as flexible as me). Calling our your next move if you cannot see the whole pathway is a good idea: "backing up, everybody clear?!" sort of thing. The whole classroom doesn't have to know if you're just working with a group of kids, so feel free to modulate your voice as needed. Likewise, if you have any smaller kids and choose to do something like circle time / group activities on the floor, you will need to be especially careful of fingers / hands and feet. This goes for a manual chair but DEFINITELY for a power chair! You may want to consider some stick-on mirrors (small bike mirrors perhaps) if body flexibility and chair limit your field of vision. Younger kids (ones that would be more likely to do activities on the floor, and maybe not be cognizant of the danger) - may not realize they need to move their hands / feet back. You could also do a reminder just before group activities: "Okay, when I come near your circle, remember to watch your hands and toes. This chair weighs 600 lbs and I don't want to hurt you. We need to help each other."

    For the stick on mirrors, you could either apply them previous to the classroom if you find them helpful (try double stick mounting tape and maybe a bike or makeup mirror) - or carry them in some sort of bag / pouch and only apply them to your chair as needed. Likewise if you need a dramatic picture, image, or math equation: consider a safety message about the proportions of a power chair vs. hand if you have a problematic group. (Giggle)

    Good luck! I really enjoyed my classroom time, so I know you'll enjoy yours. You'll be great!
    Mystery

  3. #3
    What grades and subjects??

    Will you have a teacher's aide assigned to your classroom?

    (KLD)

  4. #4
    I have a friend who is C7 quad teacher, he is a manual chair user, has taught fo 30 plus years post injury and is now the oldest teacher at his school with most longevity. He teaches a special ed classroom and is also the jv football coach. He loves his job and is not even considering retirement.

  5. #5
    I don't have a particular subject I would like toSub for, however I probably would lean towards math. And I want to start off working with high school students, Kind of nervous how elementary school Children might act like in class.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kulea's Avatar
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    I was a high school teacher (math, science, computer graphics and multimedia) for 15 years. Before that, I was a teaching assistant in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The first and MOST important thing is to go in confident and in CONTROL. Students will assess you within 5 minutes, so the first impression is critical. If they feel like you know what you are doing, know the subject, are AWARE of what is going on in the class, and aren't a pushover, they will respect you. The one thing that is great is that they will NOT be mean to you. It is a shock to them to have a disabled person in charge, and, for the most part, they will be empathetic to your situation. A trick that works remarkably well is to solicit their help (even if you don't need it), which gets them on your side. Find the kids that are the troublemakers and ask them to pass things out, etc. Do this very early on. Afterwards, PUBLICLY thank them for being so helpful, make them feel like are critical to your role. Before long, they will be your greatest defenders.

    Unfortunately, as a sub, what you won't have is control over your environment. Very likely, most of the rooms you teach in won't be set up in a way that you can even wheel to reach most of the students in the class. Here is where you have to summon up your "teacher voice". You have to be able to speak in a voice that demands immediate attention from everyone in the room. On the opposite scale, one of the best tools is using your quiet voice. Students have to listen harder when you are speaking quietly. And the shock of your teacher voice becomes a wake up.

    I used to teach math writing directly on the glass of an overhead projector using fine point dry erase markers. You can actually just wipe it off with the side of your hand. The dust just sort of disappears. I had VR buy me a somewhat lightweight portable projector to take with me to unknown environments. Here again, you can get students to assist you with setting it up, etc.

    If you have any specific circumstances that turn up, ask away. Good luck.
    C-6/7 incomplete

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