Hello, dear friends! It has been quite some time since I last posted. You may have guessed by this post’s title, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, but rather I’ve been spending the last seven months raising my beautiful baby boy, Eamon. I have utterly adored my time out of teaching (heck, my career is based about taking care of kids, so having my own is wonderful!), but these precious months together are drawing to a close, and I am now preparing for my return to work.
I was feeling a little burnt out after my last year of teaching, having been through my first OFSTED and spending most of my second year in Primary pregnant. Yet while my responsibilities have never been as great as they are now, I am really feeling excited about getting back in the classroom. Apprehensive, yes, but motivated as well.
In order to allay some of my worries about going back to work, I’ve reached out to a couple of teacher groups I am a part of for some advice – I asked what their top tips would be when returning to work. I thought I’d set out a few of the ones that felt right for me, and then in a few months come back and update you with the ones that really made a difference.
Get Prepared the Night Before
Obvious perhaps, but I have a feeling this will be my saviour. From nursery bags, to clothes and breakfast/lunches, set them all out the night before and then you can whip round in the morning without the mental burden of trying to remember anything.
The 10 Minute Alarm Trick
I love this tip. Set yourself 3 alarms, each ten minutes apart. The first 10 are for dossing about on your phone, checking whether the world has blown up and your favourite Insta stories (or whatever floats your boat!). The second 10 are to get yourself dressed (in the clothes you handily laid out the night before), makeup, brushing your teeth and general getting ready. The final 10 are for changing and dressing your baby. Then you put your breakfast in your bag, check you have your car, house and school keys and off you go! Personally, I’d prefer to get up a bit earlier so that I have a more leisurely start to the day, and let’s be honest, my son rises at 5:50am without fail, so a lie in is a foreign concept to me these days. But the principle is the same. Don’t rely on your innate sense of time in the mornings. Get an alarm to shriek you into submission.
The Slow Cooker is Your Friend
This came up a lot – batch cook and use the slow cooker! Someone also said ‘beans on toast on Wednesdays and fish and chip Fridays’. This is something I can definitely get on board with.
Finish on a Thursday
I’m only going to be working four days a week, but I really like the concept of this tip. Essentially, plan your week so that major tasks are finished before Friday, so that you can minimise marking before the weekend. Use your Fridays to repeat certain concepts, address misconceptions and have short activities that perhaps don’t need onerous recording methods or much marking!
Be Organised – ha ha ha…
If I am entirely honest, I am naturally a planner, but not necessarily a follow-througher. I have the best of intentions to be an organised person, and I usually start out well, but often fade out into disarray before the term is over. But this is no longer really an option for me if I want to stay this side of sane. My favourite class organisation tips were to try and get your planning done a week in advance (with wiggle room to adjust to your class – they may move more slowly or quickly!) so that if you need to take care of a poorly child your lessons can be easily covered. Another tip from an American teacher was to have a couple of standalone absence plans completed, for exactly the same reasons!
Assess as You Go
Mark books in the sessions where you are able to, update targets as you go and use your lunchtime to mark. I am guilty of the lunch time race around the photocopier more often than I would like, so this is going to have to be a bit of a mindset change for me, to ensure my afternoon sessions are set up in the mornings.
Done is Better than Perfect
The workload will always be there. Choose a leaving time and stick to it. Wise words from women who have been here before me. If you’re anything like me, you like things to look good as well as work well, and frankly, it’s something we get asked to work on! But I’m going to relax my standards, and pour my time and energy into getting it done. Then I am out the door to pick up my baby.
So there you have it, seven tips I’ve had from teachers who have gone back to the classroom after maternity leave. I’ve got a couple of months yet before I cross the threshold again, but I’ll head back here once I’ve got my head in the game and let you know which tips were the most helpful!
Have you returned to teaching after maternity leave? What tips would you like to share?