Opinion: My new side hustle — substitute teaching in Salt Lake City

Oct 8, 2022, 9:00 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 2:44 pm
First day on the job. Photo, Amanda Dickson

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — I don’t know which made me more nervous,  the first time I ran the board at KSL NewsRadio or my first time substitute teaching in charge of a room full of 5th graders.

I know what you’re thinking. “Amanda – they’re precious at that age. What could you possibly fear?” My brain knows you’re right, but this week as I began my new side hustle of substitute teaching in the Salt Lake City School District, I felt humbled by how little I know.

Here’s what I do know:

  • I love the children, and I really want to be there,
  • I want to help them in any way I can,
  • learning from the children is a real possibility,
  • their intelligence and already-developed skills in things like PowerPoint blow me away, and
  • their teachers are some of the most incredible people on earth.

I got through my first gig with the 5th graders with no injuries, to them or me. Whew!

Learning about teaching kids with special needs

My second job was to help with resource students at a middle school. I helped raise two children with special needs and I thought I would be a little more prepared for this one.


The paraprofessionals who had worked with these seven kids for years were inspiring to watch. They unstuck the kids when the kids got stuck. They protected themselves in case a child dealing with strong emotions tried to hit them.  And when the kids screamed, they didn’t flinch no matter how loud the screaming.

The love they so obviously felt for these kids brought me to tears as soon as I reached my car. I pictured the love that was shown to my own children when I wasn’t there, and I cried all the way to the freeway.

My substitute teaching experience

I’ve taught three times so far, and “taught” is probably not the right word. I am with them. I follow the teacher’s instructions, which have been impressively detailed.

It’s obvious how much these teachers care for their students. They want to make sure I do a good job while I’m there, and I try. Yesterday I had my first high school students at the Career and Technical Education Center. What a place! The students investigated ethnic studies, and we had a really good conversation before they did their assignment.

We talked about Columbus Day and why many states have chosen to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead. We talked about why they chose to take the class, whether they saw themselves in the curriculum, and how they feel about what they were learning.

I loved every minute of it.

Why I’ve chosen to be a substitute teacher

I wish I could tell you that I’m doing this out of a pure desire to help at a time when teachers, including substitutes, are desperately needed. That is part of it.

But the cost of feeding my family is squeezing me like it is for many of you. I looked around and wondered what I could do to earn more money, and thoughts of teaching would not leave me alone.

So here I am, going to different schools with different aged children as often as I can. If you are looking for a little extra work and have a love for children, I highly recommend it. I see postings for substitute teachers go unfilled every day. There is definitely a need for you, for all of us.

More from Utah’s Morning News host Amanda Dickson:

Today’s Top Stories


From "The Story of Change" told by citizens...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: We are citizens, not consumers.

Because we act like consumers, we stand at a distance, judgmental and opinionated, but never about our own role.
3 months ago
Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Is Democracy on the ballot?

At its core, what is our democracy based on? The USA believes in the integrity of the vote and the peaceful transfer of power that follows.
3 months ago
snow memories...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: As winter approaches, I ask, ‘What are your snow memories?’

As the first snow of winter begins to fall in Salt Lake City, KSL NewsRadio host Amanda Dickson recalls her memories of snow.
3 months ago
View from my son's seats at the game...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: BYU fans — please don’t boo your team

Aiden's first game in a college stadium was the BYU vs. Baylor game this year. He talked about his sport-induced joy for days.
3 months ago
Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Working Conference Weekend

Some of the weekends that I remember best and thoroughly enjoyed were conference weekends. Times were different, but the memories hold true.
4 months ago
Hurricane Tropical Storm Sally...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Hurricane days were like snow days

For those who have spent time in Florida, like KSL NewsRadio's Amanda Dickson, hurricane days are much like snow days here in Utah.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Opinion: My new side hustle — substitute teaching in Salt Lake City