Sneak peek: Maternity leave sub plans you can leave for heritage speakers class- Spanish-speaking sub or not!
I am about to head out on maternity leave for the second time. As fate would have it, it just so happens that I am teaching the same curriculum cycle for heritage speakers this year, as I did when I was pregnant with my son, Oskar. This makes my life easier because I will be leaving the same maternity-leave sub-plan that I left three years ago.
My due date with my son was May 1st and with this baby it is May 2nd, so the leave is also very similar. We don’t know the gender (we wanted it to be a surprise this time!) but, here’s hoping the hand-me-downs will fit like a charm, as they, just like my sub-plans, will align with the timing of the season.
Whether this is your first kiddo or your fifth, leaving maternity sub plans can be stressful because you are constantly wracking your brain to make sure you don’t forget anything. Hormones kick in, and incredibly strong urges to nest and get the house ready kick in. It’s also crazy because there’s a general level of uncertainty as to when your leave will start, so you want to be prepared sooner than later.
As the third trimester pushes on, it gets harder and harder to take on tasks that do not directly have something to do with your impending bundle of joy. Energy levels exhaust themselves quicker, mobility becomes a whole thing and in general, I regularly find myself wanting to slow down, in general, to make sure I’m being present and mindful during a timeframe in my life I know I’ll always want to remember. I’ve found that if I can get the career tasks settled and squared away early in the process, I can feel better for allowing myself to get the rest I need as it gets harder to stay on my feet for long periods of a day.
Keep it Simple
The more straightforward your plans are for the sub, the more likely they will be executed correctly. In my case, I wasn’t sure if the sub they would hire would actually be able to speak Spanish so I had to keep that in mind as I chose what assignments to leave.
Here are a few things I recommend doing to make your life and the sub life’s easier:
1. Leave as much on paper as possible (digital can get tricky with sharing rights, and you never know how tech-savvy your sub will be).
2. Leave a print-out of your classroom procedures, expectations, and where to find things.
3. Don’t forget to leave answer keys (your sub may not speak Spanish!)
4. Leave an emergency lesson plan or two in case the sub needs to be gone (a movie or a choice board works great for this)!
5. Before leaving your attendance rosters for the sub, know that it also helps to leave a note with the name of a helpful student or two from each hour so the sub knows who they can rely on in each class for help.
6. Leave notes about any students that have IEPs, 504 plans, or students who have medical needs. These items are not common knowledge, and subs can get into some unnecessarily stressful and tricky situations if they are not made aware of this information ahead of time.
7. Talk with a trusted colleague about the plans you have in place ahead of time if you are unable to meet with the sub before your leave. This will help to have someone at the school who knows what you envisioned or at least where to look for your materials.
I will be gone for about six weeks of the school year and here is what I plan on having my heritage students work on while I’m gone.
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I created an activity packet to go along with the book El libro de los americanos desconocidos. The packet is 29 pages long and includes a variety of comprehension questions, prompts, and tasks for students to complete for each chapter of the book. Included with this activity packet, is an answer key printed separately so that the sub will be able to grade the packets, even if they don’t speak Spanish.
I planned ahead to have my school purchase a class set of this book for me the last time we had funds for curriculum. If you want to read more about this book, I have a separate blog post where I review it.
If you will be on leave for longer than six weeks, or won’t have a chance to get funding prior to the birth of your baby, here are some other ideas for maternity sub plans that would be easy for a sub to execute…
In this unit, students take notes on each of the Spanish speaking countries in the world, followed by a short multiple-choice quiz. The answer keys are included, so a sub could execute this even if they don’t speak Spanish.
There is a unit packet that you could print for your students. It also helps to then upload all the Google Slide notes to your learning management system ahead of time for students. Embedded in the notes for each country are videos that allow students to independently explore more about the information provided. At the end of this section for the unit, students focus on memorizing the countries & capitals and flags in the Spanish-speaking world. In order to check out a sample from this unit, you can download the notes and quiz for one of the countries for free in my store- Equatorial Guinea.
If you have access to several novels with multiple copies, you can have your students do a lit circle while you are gone. However, I think this would be best to use a concept like this in the event where you knew for sure that your long-term sub speaks Spanish.
I have a literary analysis packet that applies to any novel, so all your students could work through the same material but for different books. This is also PERFECT for any heritage speaker students that are mixed into an L2 learner class like Spanish 1, 2, or 3.
If your long-term sub speaks Spanish, they could execute my 26-day happiness unit for heritage speakers by following the daily instructions provided. A lot of this unit is on paper, so you could print most of the materials for them ahead of time. Once you own this unit, you can teach it year after year! I love the social emotional growth my students experience from this while also improving their language skills.
This is an 8-day unit that includes daily lesson plans for the substitute teacher. The materials are a combination of digital assignments, worksheets, and games culminating in a test. This unit would need to be taught by a Spanish-speaking substitute.
You could have your sub show the telenovela Alta Mar on Fridays to break up the class and give students a break from so much reading. The quizzes (and answer keys) for the first season are available for free in my free resource library! Alta Mar may still be available for streaming on Netflix, so if the sub has a Netflix account that would be an option.
Free voluntary reading is always something students could do if they are fast and finish the required regular reading for the daily assignment, since I have a classroom library established. Establishing a classroom library was a process, but if you want to learn more about how to do that I have a section of my blog dedicated to getting started with FVR.
I have an enrichment folder in our Learning Management System where I include a digital language input and output tracker for my students who would like to take their learning further. This is optional, but nice to provide for them in case they are interested. Utilizing a concept like this is helpful in the event that you have a highly motivated students who is always pressing you for more ways to grow their abilities and knowledge; but, it’s also a great resource to build up a folder like this for subs as it gives them peace of mind. For subs, knowing they have a ready-made set of materials that they can direct students towards to keep them busy if they happen to finish something early is a priceless gift. If you are subscribed to my email list, this input and output tracker is something you will receive as a freebie in your inbox.
Emergency Sub Plan
The emergency sub plan I am going to leave for the sub is a movie and post-movie quiz, called Buen Día Ramón. I am also uploading a choice board into our Learning Management System so that they could just hit publish on it, if they had to be gone and needed to cover the class in a pinch. This will also come in handy in case I go into labor sooner than the long-term sub begins.
It is worth noting, that I am assigning my class to read the novel El libro de los americanos desconocidos while I’m gone. This reading assignment will be on the back burner and is expected to span the full arc of the time I’m out on maternity leave. Some students read at a higher level and faster pace than others, so I am also leaving an extra optional project for the sub which they can assign in the event students finish the book El libro de los americanos desconocidos before the end of the school year. The extra project I am leaving has students create an infographic.
For my Spanish 3 class, I will be leaving a TPRS novel for them to work through along with a packet of questions and quizzes. They will also be watching my flipped videos for the present perfect tense and past perfect tense while I’m gone and watching the documentary “Living on One Dollar” and completing a webquest called If Guatemela were my Home.
I wish you the best in taking the leap of stepping away from your classroom for an extended leave. Try your best to relax and let go, because your full energy and focus is needed at home during this time. We put a lot of love into the work that we do as teachers, but at the end of the day, your role at home is irreplaceable as there is no substitute for you there!
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