Sunday, February 20, 2011

Preparing for Leave

I thought I would share some things that I did to prepare for maternity leave in case it might help out someone else in the same situation.  I think I nested at school more than at home so it is possible that I went a little overboard!  I did everything I could think of to make the transition easier on my students and the sub.  I left simple lesson plans for every project.  If I had an Art teacher as a sub I probably still would have planned everything to make sure that my goals for the year would be met... I'm not the most laid back person!  Anyway, read on if you wish!

This was a test step-by-step visual.  I made some for the lessons my sub taught.

Make a Plan- The first thing I did was map out my lessons so I could organize everything I needed to do to get ready for my substitute.  The earlier you can find out who your substitute will be, the better.  I had asked the other Art teachers in my district for suggestions on substitutes who had Art experience and gave the list to my principal.  None of those subs worked out and since there are not a lot of people with Art backgrounds, I made sure that my sub would be comfortable with the lessons I had planned.  Since I teach K-6 students, I reassured my substitute that they could handle anything the students could handle.

Gather Materials- After I had the lessons mapped out, I wrote my plans and made sure to point out which terms needed to be explained to the students.  I made an example to go along with each lesson plan, showing the steps whenever possible.  For some projects, I made step-by-step illustrations.  For others, I photographed each step of the process as I worked on the project and either put the pictures into a handout or a PowerPoint presentation.  For a more complicated project with my 4-6h grade students, I photographed the creation of my example, step-by-step, and recorded my voice explaining the process on a PowerPoint so the sub can press play and it will be like I am there demonstrating.  I put together any PowerPoints or images that the substitute would need to show and burned them on a cd for easy access.  I made sure that all the lesson plans and examples were easy to find.  On my last day at school, I had everything else done so I ended up with time to get paper cut down for every project.

Labels- I realized that my substitute would be someone who was not familiar with the Art room so I typed labels for all of my cabinets and storage areas with a list of the contents.  (I also noted in my lesson plans where the supplies for that project are stored.)   I made sure that my sub would know where to store projects that were in progress and where to store completed projects so that I could photograph them for Artsonia when I returned to school.

User Manual- I also typed out a “user manual” that includes an explanation of my Art Expectations, classroom management information, beginning and end of class procedures, fire/tornado/lockdown drill procedures, seating chart explanation, and names of people to ask for help in case a question comes up.


  1. WOW. This was a TON of work. I often think that it is just easier to teach it yourself than prepare for a sub, but I've never had a sub for more than a day or two. As a former sub, I would have appreciated details like this. Good job!

  2. WOW - I'll come sub for you anytime! Bet the subs LOVE to come to your room - and we can never have too many competent subs willing to work in our artrooms...

  3. I third that WOW! My sub plans were not that detailed and once I met her she had all these ideas which was perfect! I am mostly concerned with management so I adviced her not to take out messy materials for a few weeks until she gets to know the personalities of the classes. Some classes you can do different things with because of dynamics. Management is the hardest part of the job. . .luckily we got to work together for a week and she got to see how I treat the kids with a lot of positive enforcement. Did you get to teach with your substitute to acclimate him/her before your leave? I'm sure your sub will have fun doing the lessons you left. Makes you want to go back a little right? Just kidding!!!

  4. I agree with Angie and Nancie Kay: WOW.
    With it so hard to find teaching jobs these days, it surprises me that those of you going on maternity leave are not able to have art certified subs. I don't think I'd have a problem locating a certified person who wanted the job. My own maternity leave was 22 years ago, but I took off the 2nd 1/2 of the school year, and never wrote a single lesson plan. I figure that if the district is paying the sub, she should do the work, not me! The only thing I did do is tell her what kinds of things I ususally covered that time of the year, and therefore my basic expectations. I also told her any materials I wanted (or didn't want) to see used and by whom. It was great not having to think about it.

    With that said, I must say I love your little Monet/boat lesson plan! It looks great!!!!

  5. I kind of vetoed one sub that was certified in Art- this person had subbed for me before and did not follow my lesson plan. Used the wrong supplies, did twice as much as they were supposed to in one class, and I had to redo everything they covered the next week. My principals and I were really comfortable with Lauren, the lady who did end up subbing for me. She was just finishing up her student teaching and had worked with students in both schools. (She has since accepted a teaching position in the district for next fall.) She was going to come observe me in her last week of student teaching but my baby came a little early. I was due December 11th but he was born November 27th. Ended up with a sub I didn't know for the first week of my leave and then Lauren was finished and able to cover the rest. The plans I left were not typed out how I'm really supposed to do them... I left more of a narrative for each week and put a little summary of the project, put key terms in bold so they knew to emphasize them, wrote down any tips that would be important for certain classes, and noted where to find the example. The planning was a lot easier than I expected. For my older students, it was only two projects since they come every other week. I also had multiple grade levels working on the same thing with small variations to make it easier.

  6. great work! i'm due with #2 this summer, and plan on going back in august...BUT, with my first, i did exactly what you did! i also "second" your thoughts on having a certified art teacher subbing for you...they never follow my lesson plans and actually left a message for me telling me that my "plans were not developmentally appropriate for my kids". excuse me?! you never know what you're gonna get!

  7. this is amazing! how did you find the time to prepare all that? wish i was in kansas & could cover your leave :)

  8. Hi, Katie... I hope you don't mind, but I posted a link to this blog entry on my blog, Art Sub Lessons. This is such a helpful post.