I’m sitting here and can’t believe that I’m officially on maternity leave until June. I’m the type of teacher who never misses school. In 4 years of teaching, I missed one day because my sister went into labor and needed me to watch my nephew and another day after Superstorm Sandy. It was the day before Thanksgiving and we originally had the day off. They took the day back and I already had plane tickets.
That’s it. So the thought of going on maternity leave really stressed me out. I am such a control freak that I knew letting go would be hard. However, I did 5 things that made the transition a lot easier for myself and for my students, so I thought I’d share.
Even the most organized teachers tend to be hoarders in their own way. We like to keep things that we might be able to use sometime for something. Before you go on leave, take some time to declutter and organize your supplies. This will make it easier for your sub to find what they need, and it will also be less stressful when you come back.
Obviously you need to let your students and your parents know you’ll be leaving. I was able to tell my parents during the first parent teacher conferences and then told my students the next day. At the time, I was just beginning my second trimester, so everyone had a long time to mentally prepare. A few weeks before going on leave, I sent a letter home to my parents (and also read it to my students in class) reminding them of my last day, thanking them for the great year, and introducing them to my sub. I was even able to have my substitute write a letter of introduction to the parents which was great.
If this is possible, this will really help to put you at ease. In my school, I was lucky enough to sit in on the interviews for my maternity leave. The teacher who was taking over for me chose to come in on her own time and observe me and get to know my students for 4 days. It was a fantastic experience. I was able to see that she’ll do an excellent job, she was able to see how things worked in our classroom, and my students were able to get to know her.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of stuff in my classroom that I have personally purchased. Right before going on maternity leave, I found out that I will be moving grades and classrooms next year. I may not be able to come in to help pack up my things, so I labeled everything, and I mean everything, with my name. Hopefully that will make it a little harder for my things to get lost in the shuffle. Even if you’re not moving, it’s always a good idea to make sure your name is on anything that is yours. We spend so much time, money, and effort gathering supplies for our classroom, you don’t want anything to walk away in you absence.
My last tip was easily the hardest for me. Once everything is set, your sub is chosen, and your time is up, say goodbye to your students and walk away. I’d recommend giving your students something small to remember you by. I made each of my kiddos a personalized bookmark with their name and a little note from me. I told them that if they miss me, they can read my note and remember I care about them and miss them too. When it came to the end of my last day, I hugged all of my students (some came back twice 🙂 ), sent them home, quickly cleaned up my room, packed up, looked, around, and walked out. I’m not checking emails and I’m not going to worry about what happens for the rest of the year. I have more important things to worry about. That felt weird to think and say since other people’s children have been my world for the past 5 years of my life, but now I need to focus on caring for, raising, and loving my own. 🙂
I hope those tips were helpful. Do you have any that you’d like to add? Comment below and let me know how you think people need to prepare for maternity leaves.