Students make adjustments when teachers go on maternity leave

Ms. Anna Salmi, who just got back from maternity leave, plays the violin (photo by Cloe Tchelikidi).
Ms. Anna Salmi, who just got back from maternity leave, plays the violin (photo by Cloe Tchelikidi).

Recently, several teachers have temporarily left ASL to have children. While they are mainly focusing on their child, they are also thinking about the students they have left behind at school.  For example, Marissa McCauley, Anna Salmi, Maida Shivik, Fay Wheatley, and Karen Richardson are some of the teachers that have gone on maternity leave at ASL recently.

Grade eight English teacher and advisor Mrs. McCauley left on maternity just before February break and will be returning in May this year. Her English classes benefited from an overlap of teaching with her replacement, Mrs. Ashley Young, for two days. Mrs. McCauley hoped to have a longer overlap, but for various reasons it didn’t work out.

Grade 8 student Alice Bake thinks that it is important for teachers leaving for a certain amount of time to spend some time with the teacher taking over. “The new teacher will be able to have a sense of how the class is run and what the students are used to,” she said. Bake believes the overlap is also key so that  the students can get used to the new teacher.

In January 2015, music teacher Ms. Salmi started her 11 month maternity leave. “It’s really important that my students felt that they were taken care of and the transition wasn’t was scary or dramatic,” she said.

To this end, Ms. Salmi taught alongside Miss Elena Jauregui for a two-week period prior to her leave. “In some ways it was good timing because it actually meant that the kids got another teacher from the beginning of the second semester,” said Ms. Salmi. “So, there were two of us here…and she got used to what we do here, and, exactly how the classes work.”

Ms. Salmi’s maternity cover was at ASL from the beginning of January 2015, and Ms. Salmi came back at the beginning of this school year.

Teachers leaving school can be an issue if they are not setup correctly. Grade 8 student Sofia Janssen believes that when a new teacher leaves in the middle of a year or semester, the class has to take some steps back to regain their understanding in the subject. “When we are learning, we understand our teacher’s way of teaching, making us able to know what kinds of questions to ask and types of things to look out for. When we are given a new teacher in the middle of the year, you have to start again from scratch, not knowing anything about them or the way they teach,” Sofia said.

Although it would be more convenient for students if the teachers’ babies could all be born in the summer, it is obviously unrealistic. “Babies come when babies come, and obviously I am very excited for the new baby,” said Mrs. McCauley. “Professionally, you know, do I wish that I didn’t have to leave mid-year and leave my students and colleagues in the middle of what we’re doing? Yes of course.”

For her students, Mrs. McCauley will be back before the end of the school year which will allow her and her class to finish up the school year together.

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