I've read all kinds of blogs during my precious little's nap times in attempt to prepare for our inevitable separation. But in the end it seems that what will work best for you in such a situation is... what works best for you.
So in the small quiet moments I did all that I could to set my year up to make it all as smooth as possible. The thought being the harder I work now, the more time I have during the school year with my family. Luckily a lot of the work I did before going on maternity leave set me up nicely for coming back to work.
Long Term Planner
This is pretty much a must have for a smooth year and where I always start my year. What do I want to accomplish? What are my teaching goals? What lessons and projects will I use to achieve those goals? With that set, I jumped to my next task... Here is what I used- it's a quick draft of the year. I gave my long term sub a more detailed week by week plan along with this!
This is a biggy- Homework is a time suck for teachers, students, parents... siblings- anyone involved! I wanted to make the homework thing as efficient and painless as possible for everyone. So I created a year long homework menu. Essentially, the menu provides differentiated options covering a wide range of skills and student needs. Following my long term planner, I set up homework for the entire year. The assignments all cover 4th grade standards giving students needed practice, but also leave room for adjustments in my pacing. I will get back to that in a separate post covering current research on homework and why I chose to go the Homework Menu route.
Projects and Rubrics
With my Long Term Planner set, I was able to solidify all of the major projects for the year. To make my life easier, and my classroom run smoother, I made sure that each project had a clear set of student instructions along with an easy to follow grading rubric. Again, my goal is to finish as much of my work at work. I want to be able to come home and spend time with my family. Setting up my year before it started will absolutely ensure that I am able to do that.
You can find every project I have ever done here
A Support System
This one seems obvious but still worth discussing! No amount of reading can prepare you for going back to work as a first time mom. Will I be able to maintain breastfeeding? How, when and where will I pump at work? How will I cope with my baby girl being at day care?! All of these questions provided enough angst for my milk supply to drop drastically, and school hasn't even started yet. So, time to take a few breathes and figure it all out.
Where will I pump?
Employers are required to provide a clean and safe place for a mother to pump. After reaching out to my administrator, I considered my choices. 1- Her office. 2- A bathroom on the other end of campus that another nursing mother transformed into a pumping station. 3- The nurses bathroom. (?!) When all was said and done, I went with where I felt most comfortable. My classroom. I set up a nice, clean and comfortable pumping station at my desk. I made sure that everyone was aware that I was pumping in my room so I would not get any distractions or surprise interruptions.