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Home » Blog » Teacher Support » Teacher Maternity Leave Made Easy

Teacher Maternity Leave Made Easy

Teacher Support, Tips & Hacks

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

Welcome, fellow teacher moms and dads, to a topic that's close to the hearts of many of us: preparing for maternity leave as an elementary teacher. It's a wonderful, life-changing moment, and it also brings with it the need for careful planning to ensure that your classroom runs smoothly in your absence. In this blog post, we'll dive into the steps of getting ready for maternity leave and how to prepare to make it a seamless experience for both you and your students.

Preparing Your Class for Maternity Leave

Communication is crucial when preparing for maternity leave as a teacher to ensure a smooth transition, maintain classroom stability, and provide essential emotional and logistical support during your absence. Here are some simple things you can put into place before you take your leave.

1. Build a Support System

One of the first steps in preparing for maternity leave is to build a strong support system within your school community.

Identify a Teacher Buddy

Do you have a trusted colleague who can offer support to your sub and students during your absence? Having someone you can rely on can make the transition smoother for you and your students.

Communicate with Teammates, Support Staff, and Administrators

It's essential to communicate your plans with your colleagues and school administrators well in advance. This ensures that everyone is aware of your leave and can assist in making necessary arrangements. Here are some things to consider sharing:

Leave Dates

Lesson Plans: Share your lesson plans and curriculum materials.

Classroom Procedures: Explain your classroom management strategies, routines, and procedures to ensure consistency in your absence.

Student Needs: Do you have any students with special needs, accommodations, or individualized education plans (IEPs) who will need support?

Support Materials: Share any additional resources, textbooks, or materials that colleagues may need during your absence.

Emergency Plans: Are there any procedures you've practiced with your students for handling emergencies in the classroom?

Professional Development: Do you have any ongoing professional development commitments, meetings, or responsibilities that need to be addressed during your leave?

Classroom Supplies: Coordinate with colleagues to ensure that necessary supplies are replenished or reordered as needed.

Contact Info: Are you willing to take calls/ emails while you are out? If yes, indicate your preferences – emergencies only? Available to Zoom into meetings? Email only? Texting okay? If you do not want to be contacted during your leave, establish that boundary before you go!

2. Prepare Your Students

Share the news of your maternity leave with your students. Be honest and reassuring, letting them know you'll be back.

Open and Honest Discussion

Have a frank but gentle conversation with your students about your pregnancy and upcoming absence. Explain that you will be away temporarily but will return.

Share stories or read books about families and changes to help students understand the concept of parental leave.

Here are some of our favorites:

“How to Get Your Teacher Ready” by Jean Reagan

This book explores what students might think their teacher needs to do to get ready for a substitute teacher in a humorous way.

“The Berenstain Bears' New Baby” by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bear Family welcomes a new sibling and learn about the changes that come with it.

“The Family Book” by Todd Parr

This colorful book celebrates all types of families and can be used to discuss the concept of family changes and additions.

Calendar Countdown

Create a simple calendar with your due date and return date marked. Use it as a visual aid to help students understand the timeframe.

Download this classroom calendar

Introduction to the Substitute

Introduce your substitute teacher to the class so they have a chance to become familiar with the new face in the classroom. Try some of our favorite read alouds to reassure kids that the sub will be special in their own ways!

“Be Kind” by Pat Zietlow Miller: This book encourages children to be empathetic and understanding of others, emphasizing the positive impact small acts of kindness can have.

“Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook” by Michael Garland: In this imaginative story, a substitute teacher, Miss Smith, uses a magical book to take her students on incredible adventures. It can help students see the fun and exciting aspects of having a substitute.

“The Berenstain Bears and the Substitute Teacher” by Stan and Jan Berenstain: Join the Berenstain Bears as they navigate a day with a substitute teacher and learn that change can be a positive experience

Transition Activities

Plan transition activities that will help students adapt to the temporary change. Possibly have them write letters or create welcome back cards for you as one of the first activities with the substitute teacher.

Stay Connected

If possible, stay connected with your students through video messages or letters during your absence! They will be curious about your new family member.

Effective Maternity Leave Sub Plans

Here are some suggestions for providing ultimate clarity to your substitute teacher AND a smooth continuation of learning too.

Note: The expectations Administrators have for the depth and amount of sub plans varies widely from school to school/ district to district. We surveyed teachers in our Facebook groups and some teachers told us they were not required to write any sub plans. The majority of teachers were required to provide detailed plans for one or two weeks, and the substitute was expected to plan for the rest. Then, there were a few teachers who were expected to have everything planned out and prepped for the entirety of their leave. We included some suggestions below that will help with any amount of sub plans you are expected to prepare.

Let's start with a video showing how we create our sub binders!

Download Emergency Sub Plans HERE

a. Create Clear and Comprehensive Plans

When writing your lesson plans, strive for clarity and thoroughness. Ensure that your substitute teacher can easily follow your instructions. Include details on what to teach, activities, and any specific goals or objectives.

long term sub binder with school info and daily plans
Download Sub Plan Templates

b. Get Materials and Resources Organized

Make it easier for your substitute by organizing materials and resources in advance. Label everything clearly, from textbooks to art supplies, so your classroom remains well-equipped during your absence.

c. Include an Overview of Classroom Expectations

Behavior Management Systems: Clearly communicate your classroom rules and routines to your substitute teacher. Explain how you manage behavior and any special classroom procedures that need to be upheld.

Individual Student Needs: Provide your substitute with important information about your students, including any individual needs, accommodations, or special considerations. This ensures that every student continues to receive the support they require in your absence.

Download Substitute Templates

Tips for a Smooth Return

A. Reconnecting with Your Students

Returning to the classroom after maternity leave involves rebuilding connections with your students.

Strategies for Rebuilding Relationships: Take the time to reconnect with your students emotionally. Engage in conversations, listen to their experiences, and show genuine interest in their lives. Small gestures, like asking about their interests or sharing stories, can go a long way.

Addressing Separation Anxiety: Some students may experience separation anxiety during your absence. Be prepared to address this issue sensitively. Reassure them of your presence and gradually ease them back into the classroom routine.

B. Transitioning Back to Teaching

The transition back to teaching may require some adjustments.

Gradual Return: Consider gradually easing back into your teaching responsibilities. Start with shorter lessons or fewer subjects if possible. This approach can help you and your students readjust more smoothly.

Make Yourself a Teacher Survival Kit! These are SO handy to have on hand when you need them most!

Self-Care: Balancing parenthood and teaching can be demanding. Prioritize self-care to manage these responsibilities effectively. Make time for rest, seek support from family and friends, and consider delegating tasks when needed. Remember that taking care of yourself enables you to be the best teacher and parent you can be.

We promise, you can navigate the path to balancing parenthood and teaching with confidence! Enjoy this magical time in your life, Teacher Friend! 💗


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