I've hit the halfway point of my pregnancy and my due date is less than a week before we start our next school year. Lately I have not been able to get my preparations out of my head. With this being my second pregnancy, I want to be sure I do it differently.
With my first maternity leave, I was pregnant in my first year teaching, which meant I missed a portion of my second year. I was not sure how to prepare for a leave at that time, so I did not prepare as well as I should have. I left my curriculum binder for the sub and asked if he/she could set up my room.
I came back after 8 weeks to empty walls, no grades taken, and spent the next two weeks staying late to organize. I was not a happy camper. I realized that if I could have had better plans left behind, things could have been better. At the time, I was also traveling to three schools, and on a cart at two schools. I struggled pretty much my entire first year of teaching, so why would I expect someone to handle it within 8 weeks?
I've already taken steps to help prepare for my maternity leave. Although my leave is in the beginning of the school year, these steps could work for any time of the year with traveling. I am more than willing to hear any suggestions readers may have that I may have overlooked. Although I am organized and a little obsessive about my classrooms, I may miss a few things!
1. Prepare your classroom expectations. Although the sub may want to use their own strategies to manage your classes, the students are familiar with your routines. Write down your rules for the room to help the sub (in the beginning of the year, I print out my rules to share with the classes to remind them.) Make copies for all your schools you teach at. Don't forget the classroom procedures and clean-up details!
2. Write an agenda. Is it the beginning of the school year? Let the sub know where your displays are at to hang. Explain where to get the grade books, who to go to for help, where the school art display spaces are, etc...and be sure to do the same for all your schools. If your leave is at the end of the school year, write directions on where you want your displays placed after being taken down, as well as any wrap up activities need to happen. In the middle of the school year? Notify the sub of any events that are happening that they would need to be aware of.
3. Don't miss any extra details. Notify the sub of seating details, extra duties you attend, meetings, committees, emergency situations, and anything else that would pertain to your duties. Yes, even traveling teachers have meetings and duties to attend.
4. Make common materials accessible. In my second school, I share a room with another art teacher, we communicated on how to use the common materials, such as crayons, colored pencils, markers, and pastels. We made bins for pencils, scissors, and glue to share as well. When you're on your leave, notify the sub of where your common materials are placed for projects. If you do not want the sub to use your clay, just simply tell them in your plans. Don't be mean, many subs to have experience in the arts and may be able to handle any material you leave behind (I had quite a bit of fun subbing for an end of the year leave before I became a full time teacher!). Do this for all your schools!
5. Prepare your lesson plans. In some situations, your sub may have their own lessons that fit into your curriculum. In other cases, it's better to be prepared. Depending on the amount of weeks you are away, prepare your lessons for each week. Notify the sub of where materials are located for your lessons.
6. Be prepared for anything. Since my leave starts in the beginning of the year, everyone is still trying to get a full time job. In my previous leave, I didn't get a sub until two weeks into the school year. I was not happy about that but it can happen. Be sure to leave plans that any sub can handle for the first few weeks in case your school does not find someone right away.
From the looks of all the work you have to do, don't be intimidated about having your family! If you take the steps needed to be prepared, you can enjoy your leave with your new bundle of joy and any future bundles you may have!