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TeacherMomma0 TeacherMomma0 is offline
 
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Upset with Sub While on Maternity Leave
Old 12-26-2013, 12:04 PM
 
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***I signed out and am posting under a different name to protect my privacy and that of my long term sub.***


I am currently home on maternity leave with my first son. When ever I try to contact my long-term sub (via phone or email) it takes her days...sometimes over a week.....to respond. She is not keeping me in the loop about what is going on in my classroom and I keep hearing horror stories from other teachers in the building who see what is going on in my room.

So anyway, I decided before Christmas break to visit my students at their holiday party. This was my first visit since my son was born. I had arranged with the sub ahead of time to pop in.

When I arrived I noticed that classroom was a complete mess. Furniture has been moved, bulletin boards have been taken down (and nothing has been put in their place), papers were spread out everywhere....piles and piles everywhere. We have a class pet and the table that the tank sits on was a complete disaster. Pet food everywhere, even on the floor. I was absolutely disgusted.

On top of the room being a mess, my students were out of control. I didn't want to step on her toes so I just smiled and observed. Half of them were moving around the room and ignoring her while she was giving directions.

I left feeling stressed and depressed. I need to return to work in a few weeks and now I'm worried about when I'll find the time, with a newborn, to put my classroom back together and clean it up for my return.

Is it rude for me to ask the sub to clean up the room and return it to its previous state before I left? How do I go about asking/saying that?

Any suggestions are much appreciated.


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Old 12-26-2013, 12:26 PM
 
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Quote:
When ever I try to contact my long-term sub (via phone or email) it takes her days...sometimes over a week.....to respond. She is not keeping me in the loop about what is going on in my classroom and I keep hearing horror stories from other teachers in the building who see what is going on in my room.
When I read this part my thinking was don't worry about being kept in the loop. You'll get back into it when you get back. Just enjoy this time with your baby and let others at school be a support to your sub.

When I was on my leave, I didn't contact my sub at all (well, one time to set up a time to visit). I didn't ask how things were going, etc...She emailed a few times with questions and that was it. I wanted her to know that it was all her until I got back.

Now, for the mess...Yes, I would ask that she have it straightened up and put back how it was when she arrived. It won't be perfect or exactly like you had it (mine wasn't either) but she needs to clean it up. I can't believe she took down bulletin boards. Did she put anything else up? Why would she take them down?

I might not refer to the state it was in when you talk to her/email her. Maybe send her an email towards the end and explain that you'll be really busy when you get back balancing work and the new baby. Ask that she clean out and take anything with her that doesn't belong to you. And some notes about where she left off in the curriculum so you know where to start back up.

No matter what she does you'll have to do some straightening and organizing.

As far as the behavior of the kids-you'll want to spend some time at the beginning going back to basic rules and expectations. Treat it similar to the beginning of the year. I had to do some of that when I came back because my sub had different expectations and management than I had. The kids were able to transition back to me pretty quickly.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:30 PM
 
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As a teacher who has had multiple maternity sub jobs I think that by all means you have the right to ask her to return the room to the same condition in which you found it. Lay out specifically what you need to have done before she leaves. Go to her now with a detailed list that needs to be done. (All counters cleared, your desk neatly arranged, the floor cleared, papers graded and recorded, bulletin boards up, furniture back to original place, etc.) Can you have your P go with you? Her evaluation and future jobs depend on how well she follows your directions. Let her know that you can't come back and clean up after her.

It's one thing to have to deal with the typical returning to wok=k issues but dealing with a physical mess is unacceptable.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:32 PM
 
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Thank you! That makes me feel a lot better.

As for the bulletin boards...no...nothing new was put up. I asked one of the students about them during my visit and they said they had been empty since a few weeks after I left. She even took down the calendar and schedule...very strange.

I know I should be happy that she isn't contacting me with constant questions. This is my first time out of the classroom for an extended period and I am having a hard time letting go.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:55 PM
 
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Wow! Can't believe she took down even the calendar!! Is she planning to take your stuff with her? I would definitely ask her to put the room back in the original order. It takes days to put a room together(as you know) and you will be exhausted from working all day and taking care of your newborn at night.


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cc admin
Old 12-26-2013, 01:18 PM
 
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I would ask everything to be put back up before she leaves. I would recommend you cc the principal as well to raise the level of concern on her part.

I would also make a visit a few days before her last day to make sure everything is back in order...then the principal can follow up if needed.

Very odd that she didn't put other things on your bulletin boards....
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Yep... Let principal deal with it too
Old 12-26-2013, 02:47 PM
 
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You shouldn't have to deal with that!
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Why?
Old 12-26-2013, 03:16 PM
 
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I can't even imagine why she'd take your bulletin boards down. Can you go to your admin or team leader with your concerns?
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A little bit of a different take
Old 12-26-2013, 04:18 PM
 
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I was out last year for six weeks. I know you are stressed about the state of your classroom but I would honestly try and let it go. While I think it's odd that she took down bulletin boards and it's a shame that it's messier than you kept it, I think you should focus on your new baby. When I was out after surgery I didn't care what was happening at school. In fact, I let others know not to feel the need to fill me in. I cared about my students but ultimately, my recover was what mattered the most.

You can definitely email the sub and CC your principal about the way you hope to find your classroom upon your return but keep in mind a couple of things. A sub is never going to do things the way you would and subs aren't necessarily going to keep the room as neat as you would. As for the kids behavior they aren't going to behave the same for any sub as they would for you. When I came back I had to rearrange some things and I had to get the kids used to my rules and expectations again. That has to happen no matter who the sub is. I would say enjoy your baby and worry about those things when you return. Don't feel like your room has to be perfect. You can work to arrange it again a little at a time.
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Old 12-26-2013, 04:34 PM
 
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Is this sub a newer teacher? I noticed in my first year teacher that I had a hard time maintaining a clean classroom but now I feel I am pretty good at it. I bet your sub is in over her head and is afraid to ask for help, especially if this sub has never had her own classroom.

I would definitely ask her to clean it up. I would do it in a friendly manner, but I don't think it's out of line.

I would also sit down with her and give her a few "tips" for her next long term sub job. If this woman can learn from her mistakes then you can prevent this from happening to the next teacher!


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Specific List
Old 12-26-2013, 04:50 PM
 
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If you decided to make a list of things that need doing in your room, make the list specific.
--The rectangular table needs to be moved to the north wall.
--The small bulletin board to the right of the white board needs to have a calendar and daily schedule.

This may mean that you visit your classroom after hours and make a list. Then choose the top ten and email that list to your sub and your administrator.

It sounds like this sub is in over her head or very thoughtless of your materials and space.
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Old 12-26-2013, 05:53 PM
 
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I agree with everyone else that leaving her a list of things to do would be a good thing for you to do.

Just one thing to say from someone who has been the long term sub and changed some things. I ended up moving some things around because the way the room was set up did not work well for me and my teaching style. So I wouldn't fault her for that. And I took down some bulletin boards, but I did it to replace them with student work that we had done.

Good luck! Just think of your return as the beginning of the year and starting over. I had a situation with a very bad long term sub and it was tough to come back, but after a week the kids were back to "normal".
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:48 AM
 
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I was out for 3 weeks and had a few questionable subs also. What I do is lock up anything of value or I took it home with me. In your situation, I would def contact the principal or see if you can go out there one afternoon and meet with the substitute and have your room set up before you return completely.
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:20 AM
 
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I would let it go. Sounds like she is overwhelmed.

Get things back in order when you return, knowing you are much needed.

Enjoy your baby!
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Class pet?
Old 12-27-2013, 07:46 AM
 
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I'm surprised you left a class pet with a sub. They are an above-and-beyond responsibility. Did you ask her if it she felt okay taking that on?

I agree w/ PP that you should try not to worry about it. You can't control what's out of your control. When you get back, reinforce your expectations like you would at the start of the school year, and everything will be back in order in no time. Try not to dwell on the fact that she didn't do things the way you would have done them- focus on the positive- that there was a person to cover your class so that you could enjoy your time with your precious little one.
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I wouldn't CC the principal just yet
Old 12-27-2013, 07:58 AM
 
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I would give her the benefit of the doubt and send her a polite list of "have tos" prior to your return. I would soften it with "Thank you for taking care of my class while I was out. I noticed that you "made the room your own"- good for you! But now that I am going to be returning, I would appreciate it if you would: (and then list what you need done so it's the same as when you left) Thanks so much- that will make my transition back so much easier."

Then stop in a day or two before you return (maybe while you are leaving your baby for a little while to get used to the daycare situation) to check and see if all is in order (let her know what day you will be there.) If it's still a mess, at that point contact the P.

Good luck, and enjoy that baby! No worries about reigning your class back in- you'll get them whipped back into shape before your first day back is over!
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Thank you for your suggestions!
Old 12-27-2013, 08:31 AM
 
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I ended up getting pulled out early by my doctor and was on bedrest for the last few weeks of my pregnancy. Since it was a surprise, I hadn't brought the class pet home yet. The sub requested that I let the pet stay and said she could take care of it. I was reluctant...but at the time my focus was to not go into preterm labor.

I regret that decision now.

I understand that she has to be able to make the room her own in a sense so that she can be comfortable teaching. I'm just frustrated. I know I need to let it go and to just enjoy my time home with my baby. It's just so hard.

Thank you all for your suggestions. I think I will send her an email and see how it goes. She use to be an assistant in our building but this is her first time managing a classroom on her own.
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substitute
Old 12-27-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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I'd ask my principal to get someone else.

If that doesn't work, I would ask her to do specific things. Not getting back to you is unacceptable. I would tell her this. Be as assertive with her as you would with your students.

Good luck in reteaching routines and procedures with your class and enjoy that baby in the meantime.

Sorry this has stressed you at a time when your life should be only joy filled.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:08 AM
 
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Congratulations on your new baby!

I have also been out on two extended maternity leaves and worried about my kids. I found both times that things ended up just fine.

I agree with pps who said that it sounds like she is overwhelmed. Having her take down your bulletin boards is annoying, but really not important as the kids don't care about bulletin boards anyway. I, personally, would not waste a lot of time writing lists and things for her to do to get the room back the way you want it. Even if she tries, it still won't be the way you would do it. You should resign yourself to the fact that when you return you will have some sorting and moving around to do. I would take a half hour and have the kids help clean up the room when you return. The kids will fall back into line with their behaviors when you return. At some point you have to accept the fact that while you are on any type of leave, that things are not going to be done, cleaned, etc. the way you do it. Please do yourself a favor and let it go. Focus on your baby. You can clean up and straighten up when you get back. It will be fine!!
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On the flip side...
Old 12-28-2013, 05:24 PM
 
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I once did a long term sub job when I was a gung ho new teacher. Room was a disaster! I am a very organized teacher and could never work like that ( books thrown on the shelves, papers all over etc...). I completely organized and cleaned it all up and enjoyed every minute with the kids. When the teacher came back she was upset and said she liked things in a messy state all over. Poor kids!
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:17 PM
 
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Will your district provide a few days with both of you in the classroom? If so that time can be spent with one of you teaching while the other is cleaning
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Role Reversal
Old 12-29-2013, 05:52 PM
 
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This sounds like my exact experience last year, but it was the teacher who was non-communicative, not me (I was the sub)!
I wanted to keep things as much the same as possible, but the teacher would not even answer emails. When I finally needed a password, the P had to call her. It was a horrible experience.
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First of all...
Old 12-30-2013, 10:21 PM
 
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Congratulations on the new baby. What an en exciting time for you! I guess I am wondering why members of the staff would be "reporting to you" about how awful things are. That does not seem very thoughtful. It is hard enough to be gone from your class, you don't need reports about every little thing that goes on. Maybe you should just mention to people that you are enjoying your time with the babe right now and ask them to refrain from the constant reporting.

Just my humble opinion.
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:46 PM
 
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Honestly, I'd let it go and enjoy the baby. I'd give the class pet to another teacher or take it home for sure. The rest will still be there when you return. My dd never wanted to be held after several months old so ENJOY the baby. Who really cares about the rest.
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