ETA because of the comment a poster made who says that subbing is not real life experience as a teacher: If I seemed to anyone other than her that I was saying that subbing is the same as teaching, let me say that this is NOT what I was saying. I was explaining how good it is to work with other teachers AND run a classroom AS a substitute in order to help you decide if you want to go back to school and get your teaching certificate. I thought it was obvious that I made that point, but evidently not.
I'll add here that it is expensive to get your certificate and takes a lot of work. I'd much rather know that I can handle the stress of the classroom by "practicing" teaching before having to do it, than just consider it from being a teacher's helper as a volunteer. It would be a shame to spend all that money getting your certificate, just to HATE the job later.
I decided not to read the other posts before writing so that no one else's thoughts would influence what I write. I'm a substitute teacher. I love subbing - I really do. It hasn't always been easy. When I first started, I subbed for 3rd through 8th grade music classes. I had the chance to observe the teachers before subbing so that I could learn how they ran their classes, how they managed the kids, and how they applied their lesson plans to the different age groups. I loved, loved, loved learning this and I spent a lot of time doing it. It was a little like being a student teacher on an informal basis. Not everyone can do this, and I know how lucky I was.
Due to a last minute need, I ended up subbing for the high schooler choir (60 of them) who needed actual work time preparing for a music contest. I had never subbed for them. They weren't used to having to sing for a sub, much less a sub who could actually conduct and work through music. They didn't want to - they wanted to do their other homework and watch movies. For a WEEK I had to cajole them, beg them, remind them, etc that this contest was coming up and they wanted to make themselves look good and their teachers look good. I went home and cried the first two nights because they were so hard on me. But they came around and finally started really working with me. When the teachers came back, they told me that the kids were facebooking each other and there was a lot of fussing at the trouble makers for being hard on me. That brought tears to my eyes...
I learned A LOT from that experience. At the next school I subbed in with this older age set who had never met me before (there were 50 in the choir) they tried the same stuff, even louder. Instead of being intimidated, I "brought it on"! Lots of operatic singing, surprising the heck out of them, getting them involved from the beginning, forceful and upbeat, showing them that we were going to get this done. It worked. No more going home and crying about it. I passed my personal test that I could control a group of 50 plus students. It's actually a wonderful feeling.
You won't have 50 plus students if you aren't a music teacher. You may have 30 students in your class. You'll find the "tricks" to manage a classroom that work. But you won't necessarily find them off the bat. You need to work with other teachers and watch what they do. Observing different age groups with successful teachers helps a great deal. If you could substitute for a school whose teachers you know, it would be wonderful. Then you see what they do and apply it to the classes when the teacher isn't there.
In addition to managing a classroom, being able to move from subject to subject in the appropriate time frame is a learned skill. You would have the teacher's lesson plan, telling you what you are supposed to do with the kids. That teaches you how to organize the day and gives you the experience of actually doing it. If you are subbing for older kids who change classes to come to you, then it is easier because you are usually teaching one subject and getting different groups to come in.
A lot of it is "practicing" teaching after you observe another teacher, seeing how you are able to handle the kids and the subject matter at the same time. The rest is organizational.
If you are able to do what I'm suggesting and decide that you like it enough to go back to school to get your teaching certificate, then you would be doing real student teaching as part of your curriculum and the biggest part of your work would be writing your own lesson plans with great detail and teaching in front of the teacher. That's a lot of work. I had considered going back to school too, mom, but I'm a lot older than you and decided that I would just have to be happy subbing. And I am. I really like having a lesson plan handed to me. I HAVE written my own lesson plans for music classes because the teachers knew that I wanted to, and they gave me leeway. But I also know how time consuming it is. I spent more time working on my lesson plans and practicing the music I would be working on with the kids, than I did in the classrooms actually teaching. I'm lucky I had the time to do that - not everyone is as lucky.
I would NOT worry about the parents, at all. By the time you are a teacher, you will feel confident in your ability to teach, and you will quickly figure out what parents are reacting to little nit-picky stuff and who are honestly trying to reach out to you.
Today I had parent/teacher conferences with all my high school senior's teachers. They are a wonderful group of teachers this year, and I'm grateful to have enjoyed every single one of the conferences. In regards to you worrying about the parents, I just want to say that I really think that you wouldn't be wanting to teach if you were one of the minority of teachers with a bad attitude, one who wishes no one would contact her or even show up at conference time, one who won't write a parent back or call, one who thinks parents are just a "bother" to the teacher. Everytime I see a teacher who acts like that, I think how great it would be for them to go get a different career. Jaded attitudes like this just spill over to closed-mindedness with kids, and that produces mediocre teaching.
Teaching is certainly not about the money or prestige. It's a labor of love, and THAT is why people should go into the profession. That sounds like you!