Have you considered working as a substitute teacher at your child’s school? There are certainly undeniable advantages. You and your child will have the same schedule. You will have the opportunity to get to know your child’s teachers. You may even have the chance to participate in special events that you would not otherwise be present for. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that just being close to your child brings peace of mind, but this opportunity can also be challenging. You may find yourself in some unexpected sticky situations.
Consider the following tips for subs to help you navigate the halls of your neighborhood school.
Do make an effort to build a personal relationship with your child’s teachers, but don’t take advantage of your unique access.
- Working closely with your child’s teacher will give the two of you an opportunity to build a deeper relationship than you would as a parent. A genuine friendship can serve you, the teacher and your child well.
- You will need to be especially respectful of the teacher’s time and boundaries. Never “pop in” for a quick question. Request a conference via email or by making a phone call on your personal time, just as you would if you were not working at the school. Taking advantage of your position, shows disrespect and will quickly erode the trusting, professional relationships you have worked so hard to build.
Do allow your child to feel special, but don’t inhibit his or her growing independence.
- Many children enjoy proudly announcing, “My mom works here!” Allow your child the opportunity to enjoy that glimmer of pride. It will help ease a little of the disappointment that may come when he has to arrive at school a bit earlier or stay after with you while you wrap up your materials and paperwork for the day.
- Be careful about giving in to the temptation to stop by your child’s classroom unexpectedly or to walk your child to her desk in the morning. Allow her to establish and maintain a personal identity; give her the space to make her own choices and to experience the benefits and consequences of those decisions.
- Be cautious about discussing personal matters with your child at school. Remember that during school hours you are fulfilling your role as the teacher – not just a parent. He may become embarrassed at unexpected moments, catching you both off guard and making it harder for you to focus on your responsibilities.
Do show professionalism without exception, but don’t expect to eliminate your natural, parental instincts.
- Avoid revealing personal details about students and teachers to your family.
- Be cautious when working with your child’s friends. Show kindness and familiarity but not favoritism or unwarranted firmness.
- Be especially careful to never discuss students with other parents in your community. This is a dangerous temptation. Protect your students’ privacy with the absolute vigilance. You would expect the same respect shown to your own child.
- Know that while you will do all you can to support your students, you are still parent to only one (or a few), and while you will have to set some limits, you will also enjoy treasured moments: passing by your son’s class in the hallway on the way to lunch, having a candid view of your daughter on the playground or being invited to a class party during your conference period. These sweet occasions may make the challenges well worth it.
Achieving the right balance between educator and parent can be tricky, but if approached with a respect for boundaries, working as a substitute at your child’s school can be an incredibly rewarding experience!
What tips and tricks have worked well for you when substitute teaching at your child’s school?