7 Secrets for Maternity Leave Prep From Teachers Who’ve Been There

How to prep for a long-term sub without losing your mind.

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Secrets of Maternity Leave Prep

Your growing baby bump is a daily reminder that time is ticking before you need to prep your sub and classroom “kids” for your absence. How do you best prepare?

Over on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE, Samantha N. asked: “Did you leave detailed lessons for the long-term sub? Generally speaking, what are some tips for preparing for maternity leave?”

Both teachers and subs supplied Samantha with great tips, so she could enjoy time with her beautiful baby. Here are some of their best tips for a stress-free transition:

1. Plan ahead.

Of course, making plans for your sub is important. For the overachieving teacher in all of us, take a note from Barbie J. who says, “I had every day planned out for my entire leave. Copies made, and each week’s lesson plans on top of the copies for each week.”

2. Organization is key.

Mandi B. explained how she prepped, “For the first two weeks, I had detailed plans with all handouts and activities printed out. The remaining weeks I had skeleton plans (standard, idea activity, etc.) with just a master copy. I also made bins for each week with materials, books, and handouts. It kept me organized.”

3. Show subs where to find resources.

“The teacher I was subbing for left me an outline of what I was supposed to do when she is gone,” said Sheree O. “She also showed me where her files were (both paper and electronic) so I basically just followed her plans. The only prep I need to do is making copies and grading papers.”

“Everything I use is on my computer (I hate paper clutter!),” laughs Tina O. “So I showed her how to find the files she’d need.

4. Work as a team.

“I was a long-term sub for 5th grade,” says Beth W. “I met with the teacher ahead of time as well as the 5th grade team. We ‘mapped out’ our plan and planned the day-to-day. The team was a great resource for me! I made sure that I followed the teacher’s discipline plan and her routine so that it would not only be easier for her when she returned, but it would also be an easier transition for the students.

5. Allow for observation time.

“My first leave, the sub started two weeks before my due date,” says Holly R. “I taught three blocks of 9th grade ELA, so I’d teach the first two and he’d observe and take the last one. Eventually, he took over all three while I observed. It was great! I left him a binder of all the activities he could do with the unit and he was responsible for writing his own daily plans (with the help of the rest of the 9th ELA teachers).”

“I was able to observe a few times before starting with the kids,” said Faith A. “This allowed the teacher and I to plan together for first week and then after that I did my own plans.

6. Supply plans but allow for freedom, too.

I took the entire second semester and planned the whole thing, but told my sub he had liberty to modify as he saw fit,” says Niki C.

“It’s better to give guidelines because as a sub, or a teacher, you can’t predict how the days will go—what students will understand, what they will need to be re-taught, etc.,” said Beth W. “It’s easier to follow guidelines and adapt things to the class than try to follow a detailed plan that might not work. “

7. Think beyond your leave.

If you can, try to plan way ahead for when you come back! “Work a week or two ahead of when you will return,” says Mandi B. “It stinks now, but you will thank yourself later.”

 Teachers, what did you do to to prepare for maternity leave? Please share in the comments.