Today, I am sharing tips and tricks for maternity leave! But first, let’s face reality. There is a HUGE amount of responsibility placed upon teachers who are soon-to-be mothers. Many of us cannot simply shut down our computers within our workplace and walk away for six to eight weeks. Why not? Because we have about 25 little humans who depend on us day in and day out within our classrooms! Planning for maternity leave can be stressful. As a teacher-blogger who LOVES to talk about “all things organization,” I’m excited to share the ins and outs of how I planned for and set up my classroom as I prepared for the arrival of our first little baby boy! 🙂
I was definitely teary eyed as I said goodbye to every one of my 1st graders that Friday afternoon. I hugged them tight and told them one by one that I loved them while they piled out of my classroom door. Then, as I gathered my bags and ultimately left my classroom to another teacher for the rest of the year, I prayed for each of them. I prayed that God would watch over my students and keep them safe, and I thanked Him for sending us a wonderful maternity sub who will be taking care of my sweet 1st graders during our final grading period.
If you’ve followed my blog at all over the past six years, you know a few things about me:
1) I’m obsessed with organization.
2) I’m a little bit OCD about planning, prepping, and routines. (Okay, sometimes a lot…)
3) I consider teaching much more than a job. It is a calling and passion that I dearly love! 🙂
It’s probably no surprise that planning for maternity leave was a task I went a little overboard with. Please keep in mind, everything I’m about to show you is not mandated by my district. In fact, I think one week of full plans is really all that is required in my school. However, after being organization-obsessed for the past eight years, I knew that in order to fully enjoy my maternity leave and be at peace with leaving my sweet babies for the rest of the year, I needed to plan for maternity leave “my way.” I’m hoping that this blog post might help other teachers who are prepping for maternity leave, too! 🙂 Here we go!
The first thing I did was organize and create a Maternity Sub Binder.
I purchased Kellie McHaffie’s Long-Term Sub Binder (EDITABLE) on TpT. After researching and looking at tons of maternity binders and long-term sub binders on TpT, I loved Kellie’s version because of the editable features and the variety of templates she provides within the pack. I didn’t fill out every form that she includes, and I did add my own pages of information, as needed. (Due to the binder containing confidential information about my school and students, I don’t have pictures of the inside of my binder available.)
Below is a list of the main pages and sections I included for my sub:
*Daily Schedule and Monthly Calendar overview
*Subject by Subject procedures, routines, and exceptions
*Student Information – I wrote a blurb about each student’s academics and behavior
*School Information (phone numbers, maps, drills/safety, etc.)
*Classroom Behavior and Positive Reinforcement procedures
*Parent Info (volunteers, phone numbers, field trip chaperone info, etc.)
*Overview of topics to teach for each month
*Websites and Passwords the sub will need
*Photo Tour (I included pictures of the inside of my cupboards/cabinets and what materials can be found throughout the room.)
I used tubs to organize each week’s materials. These “tubs” are actually the drawers that come from those 10 drawer rolling carts so many teachers love! They’re the perfect size for papers and picture books. You can find them on Amazon by clicking HERE.
I completely planned out and made copies for the first two weeks of my maternity leave, which began on March 28th. This included daily, detailed lesson plans, and everything the sub and students will need each day.
(An example page of my daily, detailed lesson plans for the first two weeks. Text has been blurred for confidentiality.) 🙂
For Week 1, I pulled guided reading books for small group reading. I labeled each pack of books with the group’s coordinating color and what Daily 5 round the group meets during. Because this is the maternity sub’s first week doing small groups, I chose guided reading book packs from our school’s book room that came with a Teacher’s Guide. I thought this would be a nice way for her to quickly scan and implement a scripted lesson plan, if that was something she wanted.
For Week 2, I copied and planned reading passages for her to use in our small groups. This way, she gets a taste of using both guided reading books and passages during her first two weeks of teaching. Afterwards, she can pick and choose what she would like to pull for small groups, because she’ll have a better understanding of each group’s capabilities and levels.
The reading passages I pulled and copied for my groups during Week 2 come from the following packs in my TpT store:
The picture above is what my desk looked like as I left my classroom on Friday! Everything for Week 1 was set up for her.
I also put together a little Welcome Basket for her! It included a candle, Stress Relief Aveeno lotion, a travel coffee mug, Burt’s Bees chapstick, chocolate, and a welcome letter. 🙂 I hope it made her feel at home in our room!
For Week 3, all copies were made for the week. Instead of writing detailed daily plans, I simply filled out the typical lesson plan format that I use for myself. By Week 3, my sub will understand our weekly routine and will be in full swing! 🙂 The only things not planned or copied for Week 3 was our weekly newsletter and our small group reading plans.
*Please Note, I do not have this lesson plan format or template available for download or purchase at this time. You can find similar lesson plan templates by clicking HERE.
Every two weeks, I switch what is put inside of our Daily 5 Word Work Bins. It keeps things fresh and “new” for my students so that they never get bored of our Word Work Center. These materials were also included in Week 3’s tub, since she would need to swap out the activity that week. (For the first two weeks, I’ve placed stamps and ink pads in our bins. I chose an activity my kiddos were already very familiar with.) For Week 3, my students will use my Word Work Wheels to practice their trick words. You can find these super fun and versatile Word Work Wheels HERE or by clicking on the picture below: You can also read more about how I organize my Word Work bins by clicking HERE.
Week 4’s tub included copies for everything except our weekly newsletter and small reading groups. This is the first week I did not type out any detailed lesson plans. While the materials and copies are ready for her, she can best decide how she wishes to use the activities, and how she would like to fit them all into her week.
In addition to my four weekly tubs, I also put together four more tubs: Quarter 4 Assessments May Curriculum and Units Monthly Math Games Additional Word Work Materials
My district uses Standards Based Report Cards, so we have pre-established, non-negotiable assessments we have to give during each quarter. This can be super confusing to a sub or a new teacher. In order to help her out, I copied all of the assessments that need to be given during the fourth grading period. Entering our standards-based grades can be even more confusing, due to the way we grade our assessments. Before I left, I entered all of the assessments, or “assignments”, into Progress Book (the grading system we use). By doing this ahead of time, my sub simply needs to grade the assessments and enter each child’s grade into the computer. (She doesn’t have to worry about setting up the assignment, naming it, entering it correctly, etc.) 🙂
After the four weeks of copies and activities I laid out, my class was fully on their own! 🙂 In the May tub, I put single copies of units, activities, printable, and packs for “optional curriculum.” Of course, my amazing 1st grade team is also a great resource for her. We don’t do weekly planning in my building, but we do meet once a month for a grade level meeting (in addition to data meetings) to make sure everyone has what they need and knows which core standards to teach during each nine week period.
I was blessed in that my sub was able to observe our room for a couple days prior to taking over our classroom. She loved our See, Think, Wonder Write morning work routine and decided to continue that routine throughout the year! Yay!! I LOVE this morning work activity, which encourages critical and creative thinking — and my kids love it as well! Every student is capable and able to complete the morning work, so it makes planning easy!
The one thing I did make copies of for the month of May was our weekly Reading Logs. This is part of our everyday, core classroom routine, so I knew it would be important that the kids and families continue their nightly reading habits. 🙂 You can find my Reading Logs pack by clicking HERE.
For the month of May, I pre-filled baggies that included all of the May math centers my students will be using at the end of the year.
Interested in organizing your math centers for the entire year? Find the bundle HERE.
The Word Work tub contains a bunch of activities and materials she can choose from to add to our word work bins during the last month of school.
Sight Word flash cards were labeled and ready for small groups!
Anchor charts were pre-made and hung up so that they were ready for her writing lessons.
I pre-filled a jump drive that included tons of passages, packs, units, and files she will need or can choose from throughout the grading period. Also included:
*Weekly Newsletter Template
*Weekly Lesson Plan Template
*Smart Board files for Daily 5, Small Group Math Centers, and Foundations (phonics)
*Master copies of Assessments and Units for Quarter 4
*Current DRA and Fluency Levels for students
*Lots of other goodies she may want! 🙂
I placed all the bins above our cubbies so that they were ready to go!
Now do you believe I am a bit OCD about organization?!?!
And that, my sweet teacher-friends, wraps up how I planned for my very first maternity leave! I hope it gives other soon-to-be-mamas some tips & tricks for a carefree leave. If you’re not going on maternity leave, perhaps it gives you some organizational ideas for general sub planning.
As for me, after all of that planning, I was ready to put my feet up and enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation before our sweet Baby Sawyer made his arrival into the world!
Update: Christina gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last spring!
*** Christina DeCarbo (Miss DeCarbo) is a 1st grade teacher in Northeast Ohio. She provides professional development workshops and sessions for elementary educators at various state and national conferences. Christina holds a master’s degree in Elementary Literacy and enjoys creating new, engaging ways to motivate little readers and writers! You can find her curriculum products in her TpT store, Miss DeCarbo. She is the author of the blog, Miss DeCarbo’s Sugar & Spice. Christina loves to collaborate with educators through social media. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for tons of teacher tips, tricks, and ideas!