Planning for your maternity leave can be challenging. You’re anticipating your new arrival, but you want to make sure your kids are in good hands and your guest teacher has everything he or she needs to make the weeks or months you’re away easy. Here are some tips for maternity leave planning for elementary teachers (from teacher moms who have been there) that will help your students’ transition from full-time teacher to substitute.
First of all, be prepared for sickness during your pregnancy.
Many women experience morning sickness during pregnancy, and sometimes, it can get bad enough that you need to call in sick! When you’re pregnant, you’re also even more likely to catch the germs and bugs that your students are bringing into class. When I was pregnant, I caught a nasty virus and had to be out for several days! Have sub plans on hand for during your pregnancy. (This is just one of our tips to survive teaching while pregnant). You can even grab a free sample below. Even if you don’t need them during pregnancy, they can also come in handy if you go into labor early. Which brings us to the next point…
Be prepared for your maternity leave early.
Have maternity leave plans ready to go long before your due date. Early labor does happen. Every pregnancy is different, so even if this isn’t your first, and you went long before, your baby could have other ideas!
Reader Crystal S. left her sub information about each student, policies, procedures, and a pacing guide, but her leave started early than she expected. “I went on bed rest on 32 weeks and had my baby at 34 weeks so I didn’t get everything done I wanted to. I wish I had some way to prepare the kids for me leaving,” Crystal said.
Break down your plans by subject for the first week or two and leave detailed plans for your sub. This will help them get a feel for how things work in your classroom. You can also leave “cheat sheets” for each subject with a description of your typical subject block. This is a great place to include curriculum info, assessment strategies, important dates, etc.
Don’t feel the need to plan every single day of your leave
Maternity leave planning already sounds like a daunting task, but it may not be quite as bad as it may seem. Many teachers think that they need to plan every single detail of their leave. This is just not true. Most subs who take long term jobs are licensed. Leave plans for the first few weeks, and then map out each subject’s scope and sequence, focusing on each topic that needs to be covered, but letting your sub fill in the details. Make sure your scope is clear enough for any sub, regardless of their content expertise, to understand.
Reader Denise O. tried planning meticulously with her first child but learned that licensed subs didn’t need that much guidance. “For my first pregnancy, I had everything very organized and strictly laid out for my maternity leave sub,” Denise said. “I learned for my second pregnancy to leave a good schedule, clear procedures and expectations, and my cell number. (It was) much less planning and prep on my part and the substitute could do her own thing – win, win!”
This goes for your centers, too. You don’t need to map out all of your centers activities for the entire leave. Map out the groups, how your rotations work, and a general guideline of what you typically do during each center. Let your sub figure out the details. See, maternity leave planning isn’t so bad! 😉
Give a snapshot about each students
Giving some information about each of your students will go a long way in your maternity leave planning. Not only does this help your sub meet your students’ unique needs, but doing this helps your sub feel more connected to your students. This can help make (or break) the experience. Reader Erin F. told us, “I wish I would’ve left detailed information on each student. Ideas on how to be successful with each student and make learning easier for each of them. The reason I say this is because my sub greatly struggled with connecting to the students and there was a huge drop in grades while I was on leave.”
Prepare anything else the sub would like to know.
What else might your sub need to know? Keep this question in mind during your maternity leave planning! Some examples are:
- Classroom organization
- Class jobs
- Student transportation information
- Teacher and student login information
- Special student accommodations
- Any other info they may need on a day to day basis.
Put as much of this information together as you can into a binder so it’s all in one spot for your sub to find! (You can find the sub binder in these pictures in my store here).
Prepare students for having a guest teacher.
Another important component of maternity leave planning is preparing your students for the change. Talk with your students about your expectations for behavior, and let them know how excited their substitute teacher is to work with them. If possible, you may want to have your sub come in for a transition day before you go on leave. Have them teach a lesson, and get to know your kids. This is a great time to let your substitute go through the materials, ask questions, and put names with some of the faces of your children.
Reader Cassie S. ended up with multiple subs, but she did lay the groundwork for her kids before the first sub came. “To prepare for maternity leave, I talked to the kids everyday about having a sub and what that would mean and let them know I would be checking in,” Cassie said.
Talk about the baby!
No matter what their ages, your students will be excited about the baby. Talk to them about what is coming! If you feel comfortable, share the name and gender of your child. Consider “baby-themed” lessons, and share your highs and lows. This is a great way to develop relationships with your students, and keep them excited about your return.
I’ve got something VERY EXCITING coming soon that will help you with this, so be sure you’ve signed up for my email list here so you’ll be able to hear all about it when it’s ready! (Not to mention, you’ll get all the free sub plans and binder forms to use RIGHT NOW when you sign up!)
If you love the sub binder shown in the pictures below, you can grab the Complete Sub Binder: Short Term & Maternity Leave Bundle right here! It comes with all of the pages pictures in this post, plus a ton more! (It’s a total of 281 editable pages!)
Having a baby is exciting for you but also for your students! Make their transition from having you as their special education teacher to a guest teacher seamless with these tips for maternity leave planning for elementary teachers.
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