As I prepared for my maternity leave, I realized that I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to do to get ready. It was overwhelming at a time when I had so much on my plate already.
Here are a few things I learned along the way that really helped make the transition as smooth as possible.
*Get That Substitute in Your Classroom As Much as Possible!
This seems like a no brainer, but it was SUCH a gift that the sub hired to cover my leave was already a TA in the school I work at. With support of our administration she was able to schedule to support students in my classroom during both reading and math (I LOVE push in support!). Not only did she know the students, but she knew many of our basic routines and our classroom community.
If your sub is not already working in your school, then invite him/her in if you have any special events or celebration in the days leading up to your leave!
*Introduce your substitute as their teacher
I actually tend to introduce any adults who work in my classroom as their teachers. I don’t do the “aide” or “helper” language with students. It’s just another teacher. This has been SO beneficial as far as helping to pass off a class. There’s not that “You’re not my teacher” mentality.
*Use Google Drive!
I shared a folder in my google drive with my sub. I took leave from Feb-June so she had lots of time to cover, and I was taking a substantial unpaid leave, so I was not expected to leave detailed plans. Sharing past resources and curricular pacing charts via google drive helped make access and communication so much easier!
*Leave your plan book behind!
It was difficult. I am emotionally attached to my plan book, but I left it behind! I still keep a paper plan book with quick 2-3 word descriptions of activities. I think it ends up being helpful for that substitute to see how you planned/ paced things out.
*Keep a plan template and type up “Substitute” plans
This tip just helped me to sleep (when I could… 15 min at a time…) I spent about 15 min each Sunday using a “planning template” that I created early in the year. It has the time of each lesson and our routines already in there for each day. I click save as, title it for the new week, and fill in the curricular activities for the week. This helped me wrap my mind around “What would happen if my water breaks today!” I also left two weeks of detailed plans typed like this as well as all the copies for my sub. It let her take some time to breathe and deal with the daily responsibilities before jumping into prep.
*Introduce your substitute to parents early and reassuringly!
My substitute was hired around a parent/ teacher conference time, so I had a wonderful opportunity to let the parents know who would be taking over and how excited I was about it.
I also had a little Q & A that I added to my monthly newsletter that was “Meet the new teacher!” along with a note from me about how blessed I was to be a part of their child’s first grade year and how excited I was for all the learning and fun that was to come with their new teacher.
*Ask the students to write introduction letters/ welcome cards
My students had SO much fun writing letters introducing themselves and telling the new teacher things they think are REALLY important for their new teacher to know! They also made cards welcoming her, which I left on the desk for her first day. I think these letters helped them realize that this transition was really happening, and it helped her gain information about them as to what they shared, and also as a quick little writing sample!