Monday, June 12, 2017

Maternity Leave/ Substitute Notes

I realize this topic isn't relevant for everyone, but when I was putting together information for my first maternity leave, I couldn't find much in the area of Psychologist/Counseling staff leave notes.

I'm expecting my second baby this Fall, but it seems like I was just preparing for my first!  Before I went out on my first maternity leave, like everything else in my career, I overplanned.  I left a detailed binder of notes and information.  I reviewed it with my closest staff, and my scheduled substitute before I went out.  And then, my sub left after a few weeks, a second came sparingly, and then, in the end, I don't think anyone opened the binder.  Oh well.

Here's the information I included and plan to do again:

  • School Information:  I know from experience how embarrassing it is to be leaving someone a voicemail about realizing you have know idea what your school's phone number is just as you are about to ask them to call you back!  Also, information like the school schedule, classes schedule, and a map of the school.
  • School Staff:I left a list of core staff and how their roles worked with mine.  The principal, the secretary who schedules meetings, the school nurse who I work closely with on 504's, etc.
  • Special Education Staff:  At both schools I have worked at, there has been a range of staff that work in the buildings full time (Sped Teachers), and those who work at multiple schools (OT's, PT's, SLP's), so I wanted to outline that information of who is who, and when they are at my school.
  • A "Where's that?"guide to my office: where I keep student files, testing protocols, activities for groups, etc.
  • How to access the calendar of meetings and how to schedule them/who to invite:  School Psychologists are never in short supply of meetings to attend, so having those specific dates lined up really helped.  At my last school, we scheduled all meetings at the beginning of the year.  They don't do that at my school now, so I think I will just leave a general list of when all annual and triennials are due.
  • Responsibilities at other meetings:  PPT meetings, 504's, parent meetings, meetings for intervention students, they all work differently and my role is different at each, so I made sure to leave notes about that for my sub.
  • Information about students:  I left a list of students I see regularly and a sentence or two about each.  I also left copies of each student's social skills goals/504 plan/behavior plan, in a binder.   When I arrived at my new school this year, the transition psychologist had left notes for me and it was so helpful to reflect on as I started working with students and wanted to sort out who was who!
  • Testing:  Even though I do it all year long, I have at least 3 hidden post-it notes of scoring software logins or instructions in my desk.  This one is online, this one you need the USB before, this one I only have paper forms for...
  • Weekly Plans:I left just a few weeks of plans for my sub, whether she wanted to use them or not, I felt like it would be helpful of "where to start??" This included my weekly schedule.
Any other suggestions?  I always like to start slowly putting things together a few months before, so this is on my "to do" list for the summer!  Other things that I felt were helpful were drafting a letter to parents (that I sent via email) to all the parents whose children I saw or case managed, letting them know the approximate date I was leaving.  My last piece of advice would be that for no matter the reason you are taking a leave of absence, decide ahead of time, and discuss with your supervisor, how much/if you will be checking in when you leave.  If there is a important question, who should contact you?  I was glad I did this ahead of time.

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