Although my maternity leave began almost 2 years ago (this seems impossible to believe), this post has been on my mind. In fact I have a whole set of posts planned out to share about how I planned for my maternity leave from my first grade classroom, but they slip away from my mind as time goes on, only to resurface when a friend asks questions planning for their upcoming maternity leave.
There are tons and tons of worries that I had leaving my class behind. I worried that their routines would be disrupted, somehow the information about them that I had received during what I felt like was some sort of instructional osmosis would be lost. I worried that the new teaching coming in would feel lost if I didn’t leave enough guidance but smothered if I left too much.
I felt like I didn’t even know where to start… but when I did, I found this step to really ease the worry and set me on a path to organize for a maternity in a way that put my mind at ease.
It seems so basic… but it was so worth the time…
I took a daily “Teacher Time Inventory”
What did it look like? Well not this pretty. It was actually on a series of sticky notes and scrap papers which I later typed up, but in hindsight, I wish I had a page like this to use myself, so I’ll share this one with you.
Here are the 5 things I focused on when taking a time inventory:
*Identify “chunks” of instructional time during the day. This probably includes all the major time frames offered on your posted daily schedule, or even ones written up in your sub plans. These times are like “math, reading, writing” you get the idea.
*Identify non instructional chunks of teacher time- this includes the morning before the kids came in, lunch, plan time, after school, and at home work in addition to all the major academic areas of the day that would typically be included in sub plans.
* Teacher inventory: I just wrote down what I did during each time period, with special notes of things I sort of did on autopilot. I really focused on what I was doing during each time period on this first day as far as recording.
*Determine importance and trends- Sometimes I wrote down things that I did that I realized were unnecessary or that were short term sort of tasks that likely a sub wouldn’t need to repeat. I really wanted this chart to serve more as a basic checklist or even table of contents for me as I began to plan.
What I found was that there were so many things I just did automatically each morning, during plan time, or during each afternoon that really helped our day flow smoothly and ensured that I was prepared for the instructional day ahead. Small things like rotating the card for helpers, or the special for the day can cause a disruption in student arrival, for example, because they become like little police of that environment and those routines.
I also found that some of my routines I had naturally done at certain times of the day on purpose, that if just left in a big list of things to do, might have taken a bit of time for a brand new teacher to learn. For example, writing our daily message in the afternoon before leaving for the day helped in case there was an emergency and I had to be absent. It also helped because the little focuses of the day were still fresh in my mind, so it was easier for me to pick literacy and math focuses for our meeting times right then.
There were also some tasks that I really would rather do at home (like stapling book order forms together). Of course the substitute may choose to do things a little differently, but why not offer what I have found to work even if they don’t follow it!
You’ll notice the third column of the chart is for students. I filled this in during a secondary “routine inventory” so I could also be thinking about the little things that made our day go smoothly.
There will be much more to come on this topic, but if you have an upcoming long term leave or maternity leave, consider inventorying your day before you begin to plan too much for the sub. If nothing else, you might find some ways to make your own days more efficient… and I think any teacher getting ready for a maternity leave can use all the efficiency she can manage.
Here are the files for you to use if you’d like, or if you come up with another way to inventory your time, please share below!
And here’s my first shot at something editable…