Hi friends! Today we're talking about a big one… maternity leave! As I sit here writing this, I'm currently 9 weeks away from meeting our second child, a sweet baby girl named Kendall. So this is my second shot at maternity leave and I thought I'd share my process with you for how I planned and prepped ten weeks of lesson plans BEFORE I take my maternity leave.
Here's an extra tip before we get started.. I planned 10 weeks of maternity leave, but I will only be out for 8 weeks. I planned for the week before AND the week after, just in case.
Prep Your Lesson Plan Template
My first step was to start with a blank slate a.k.a. a blank lesson plan template. The most important part of this step for me was being able to fill in school holidays and special events that I knew I would need to plan around.
As you can see above, I use a digital version of lesson plans that I created in Excel. I like this platform the best because it allows me to keep all of my weeks (excel sheets) together in one document. You can see how I listed my other weeks down at the bottom of the screen. Although I did mine digitally, I definitely contemplated using an old school plan book to write out these lessons because that is a great option, too!
Make a Plan to…well, Plan
Step two involves the dirty work… actually planning all of the lessons. Here's my advice, start with the easiest part of your day! For me, that's phonics. We focus on a different spelling pattern each week so that was the easiest to plan. Think of it as a snowball effect, once you are a able to knock a few easy things off your list, your are going to catch momentum and find the energy and determination to get it all done.
So here's what you do:
1. Write down everything you plan on a normal week.
2. Now re-write that list in order of shortest amount of time to plan to longest amount of time to plan.
3. Start with the first thing on your list and get to work!
Best part? Take a break whenever you need to! The list will still be there when you're ready for it.
Keeping it All Organized
So you're working on your first planning baby step, for me that was phonics. I went through week by week and found the resources I needed and (1) typed them into my lesson plans and (2) stored the papers I needed to copy in the shelves below.
As you can see, I have 10 paper trays that are labeled Week 1-10. I use these on a normal basis, but they worked perfect for maternity planning, too. As I find a resource I want to use, I store it in the appropriate paper tray until I'm ready to make all of my copies for that week. I usually keep a sticky note on the top paper of each tray that lists the date for that week (ex: Jan 7-11) and any other special notes I might need such as “Valentine's Week” or “Starting coins”.
Copy and Gather Materials
So you've typed in all of your lesson plans and gathered all of your materials. What now? Copy and sort them by day and include all necessary materials.
When I'm done I store the week's worth of a resources in an XL ziplock bag. If you are an elementary teacher like me and need your sub to change out guided reading or guided math stations, you may need more than one bag.
Here's a sneak peek at both of my bags. Remember these two bags are only ONE WEEK worth of resources.
I put a copy of my lesson plans on top and my daily resources underneath. I didn't do anything fancy with the sorting by, as you can see, I simply used a post it note indicated Monday-Friday. When I say gather materials I mean everything from hats for student birthday to mentor texts to station materials for the week. Do not make your sub go hunt for things, have everything prepped and ready!
I used a label on the outside of my “stations” bag of what kind of games and materials I needed to gather for stations. Once I put the resources in the bag, I would mark it off. I also labeled my bags with what topics I was teaching that week, such as coins, to help me gather the right kind of station games.
Organize and Store
Here's some simple math, I had two XL bags per week for 10 weeks of maternity leave…. I had 20 giant bags to store! Here's my storage solution… banker boxes and copy paper boxes. I was able to fit two weeks of resources (4 bags) in each box. I labeled the outside of the box with which weeks were included in the box.
Want more ideas on how to get your classroom organized? Check this out—>
I am a current first grade teacher, mother of two, follower of Christ and Texas native. In my own classroom, I love to focus on and plan new ideas for my guided reading and guided math stations, warm ups and interventions and all things organization.