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Teachers teach off carts, out of small offices, in hallways. We’re versatile like that. But some of us don’t even have a building. Sometimes, when you’re a SEIT, you start your day in one place, run home or to a local coffee shop to do prep, and then go out again and again. This is the life of a Special Education Interim Teacher and what I call teaching on the go.
I live on the subway. Sometimes I think I should just forward my mail.
For those of you who don’t know me, hi I’m Sarah, and I live in Brooklyn. I work as a SEIT (or Special Education Interim Teacher), which means I do one on one intervention for kids with multiple or severe disabilities.
For more information on what a SEIT is click here.
When I am teaching on the go I travel to where my kiddos are, and they are usually on opposite sides of the city.
I normally have up to three students in a day. Some of them are in a school building, and some of them are being homeschooled. This means I change locations up to three times a day!
For you non-New Yorkers, know that’s a big deal because there is nothing New Yorkers hate more than switching boroughs.
Yet I do it at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. At my craziest, I would go to Manhattan, Queens, and then head back to Brooklyn for my final case. I call those my three borough days.
Does it sound exhausting?
It is. So today we’re going to talk about my tips and tricks for surviving it and actually enjoying it.
(PS I might complain about it a lot but during the pandemic I actually missed it.)
If you’re a SEIT or one on one interventionist make sure to join my email list to learn more about and get access to my free resource library and never miss a post.
Pick the Right Cases
Sometimes, when my feet hurt, and I’m dehydrated and also sweating because I’ve been running from point A to B to C all day, I get home and I ask myself, why would anyone do this to themselves.
That’s the first thing you need to establish. Why are you doing this?
Yeah right, like any teacher ever got into this profession for the money. Don’t get me wrong being a SEIT pays pretty well, but I could also make just as much money if I got a desk job. So why do it?
I do it because I know I’m making a difference.
If it seems like I’m just there to check a box for the family or for administrators or the district, and no one actually cares about what is happening in my sessions, then that’s not the right case for me.
If I’m going through all the effort of lugging myself to a student, then everyone else better be making sure to put the same effort into seeing improvement.
Lugging myself to different parts of the city takes a toll on my body and my brain. And that’s totally worth it if I’m helping, but if I’m just there putting in effort and asking a student to learn skills that no one else tries to cultivate, then my energy is better spent elsewhere.
It breaks my heart because it’s not the student’s fault. I don’t leave without expressing how I’m feeling to the team and family and giving them the chance to change. If however, after a few months, no one seems to be taking what we’re doing seriously, I do leave.
A case with an apathetic team is worse for my motivation than a challenging student.
Get Enough Sleep
This one seems obvious, but I forget it a lot. I like to fall asleep at midnight. That doesn’t work so well when you have to get up at 5:30 am to do prep.
When we don’t get enough sleep, it drains our bodies and minds much faster.
On the days I was up half the night, I find myself snapping at students more, whining on the phone to anyone who will listen, and generally not being a pleasant person.
Also, if you’re one of the lucky SEITs who has a car, it can be dangerous to be driving all-around without getting enough rest.
So download an app, establish a bedtime routine, do whatever you need to do to make sure you get enough sleep for your body.
If You Walk, Pick Good Shoes
If you aren’t one of those lucky SEITs with a car, because you just don’t live in a place where cars are practical (I feel you), then public transit is your friend. And that means you need good shoes.
No matter what kind of public transit you are taking, chances are you have to walk a few blocks to get to the bus or subway stop. Teaching on the go is hard enough without sore feet.
I love cute shoes as much as the next girl, but this is not the time for fashion. Get yourself some shoes with good shock absorption, because when you are walking, you’re slamming your foot on the ground over and over, and eventually, if your shoes have bad shock absorption, they’re going to start to hurt.
I got these for my birthday last year, and I love them (affiliate link). A few SEITs prefer to go the orthopedic route though, and that’s totally fine.
Spend some time on the internet or in your local shoe store for runners and see what is generally recommended. Proper foot care is essential for teaching on the go.
When you’re teaching on the go, you need water. Lots of it, because you’re moving your body, and if you don’t have a car, probably sweating while you run to the subway.
Make sure to replace the fluids in your body. You can either carry around enough water for the day or do what I do and fill your coffee mug with water once it’s empty to avoid adding extra weight to your bag.
Pack Light and Pick a Good Bag
I used to shove everything I needed into different tote bags. One would be full of games, another lunch and drinks, and the third paperwork and laptops.
I was always almost forgetting one of them and my shoulders were constantly cramping. Plus I could never find my wallet.
That is why I transitioned to a nice backpack (affiliate link). I’ll occasionally add in a tote with board games if needed, but usually, I can get everything to fit in the backpack. Plus it has dedicated spaces for drinks and my computer.
On top of that, I clear out my backpack every day when I get home, as part of a Kon Mari practice. I look at each item before I put it back, to make sure I really need it the next day. That way I’m not just mindlessly carrying around stuff I only need on occasion.
When you teach on the go, the extra weight makes a difference.
Make the Commute Enjoyable
The advice for how to do this is going to vary, depending on if you have a car or are a public transit aficionado.
If you’re on public transit like me, then I like to read on my commutes, assuming I can get a seat. I usually carry an e-reader with me, to save on weight in my bag. It has professional books, fun kids’ books, and adult books.
The kind of day I’m having and how much I feel I need to reset on the train influences whether I read professional or fun books.
I normally prefer to have physical books but found them too weighty. The advantage of the e-reader is I can also fill it up with books for my kiddos, saving me even more weight in my bag.
I personally have a Nook, but I know a lot of people prefer a kindle (affiliate link).
If I can’t get a seat or I’m walking, then I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. This is what I recommend you do for your drive.
None of my podcasts or audiobooks are for professional development, just for fun.
You can look into a way to hook up your phone to your car’s audio system for some quality listening on your drive!
Teaching on the go can be a huge challenge, and after the pandemic, it took me a while to get back into the swing of not only going places again but going multiple places!
It used to be I’d be remote in the morning and go to one case in the afternoon. When I got home, I’d feel like I’d need a nap for the next week.
Be kind to yourself always when you’re moving around so much. Check-in with your body and see how it feels. Listen to any cues it’s giving you about needing more water and rest.
And at the end of the day remember we do this for our students because we love and adore them! You’re making a difference in their lives, and doing a great job!