Originally Posted by ASusan
I am due in early October. I am teaching 2 small undergrad classes in the Fall semester. The dept chair suggested I send out an email to colleagues soliciting help for course coverage. (I do not qualify for maternity leave, just 6 weeks FMLA, but I still have to get the classes covered during those 6 weeks.) The chair feels that the department faculty will be more than willing to help out...
It will work out eventually, it really will.
I think it's great that you are setting up guest lecturers in addition to a few movies.
I am a department chair, and when I had my baby, I also had to figure out how to cover the classes myself as well. That's because, not only were they my courses, but also because I was department chair and the buck ultimately stops with the chair.
I guess it depends on your particular institution and department, but in the end, the department will scramble to cover. It's great that you're planning it all out now in advance. I and my fellow department chairs have had to scramble on one week's notice and your situation is certainly much more advance planning.
The email is a good place to start, however, I don't think it is the complete solution.
I have some suggestions. Have your department chair call a department meeting ASAP. It would be better for you to have the meeting before school starts because then you will have a syllabus ready, but that might not happen because I'll bet everyone is off campus right now. You might have to have this meeting on the first week of classes and delay getting out your final version of your syllabus. Have the department chair tell everyone to bring their calendars/dayplanners. At the meeting, have a sign up sheet, and have them sign up on the spot. I think that will be very effective.
I know your husband doesn't want you to ask your department colleagues in person, but I think you should. Face-to-face will work when no amount emails will.
If your husband has tenure, then I guess he knows the politics of your department far better than I do. But I have to say that when I had to get my classes covered in anticipation of my maternity leave, my best results were to just go up to each colleague individually and say, "Look, can you help me out here? I have a class on so-and-so date and it doesn't conflict with your teaching schedule. Can you cover this for me?" More than likely, he/she will say yes.
Just keep in mind that pregnant women professors are not the only faculty who need to get their classes covered for FMLA. Most of the people whose classes I have been scrambling to get covered have nothing to do with delivering a baby. The guy who took half of my teaching load for half a semester ended up having me pay him back the following year when he had to have surgery for prostate cancer. I had another guy who had to have eye surgery. Then there was guy in the math dept who had to be covered on very short notice for nearly an entire semester before he passed away. The guy in the office next to mine is in the biology dept and the had emergency appendicitis operation. He looked so terrible but was too stubborn to admit that he should not teach that his department collegues kept begging him to let them sub for him. I think you will find that everyone will be more than willing to pitch in to help you. Someday you will find yourself scrambling to cover one of your colleagues classes.
I also videotaped one or two lectures, and burned them on DVD. That way the person covering my class didn't actually have to do anything except be present to operate the dvd player. If you structure the class so that there is no prep required for the sub, then you will find it a lot easier to find help to cover the class.
I had a colleague who tacked on an extra ten minutes to each class meeting time in lieu of a make up. He had to get the prior agreement of the class, of course.
Our school has some of the infrastructure in place for on-line courses. We have a web-based course management system like Blackboard (it's actually Sakai), that has chat capabilities, etc. So once in a while, an instructor holds the class on line. Might that be an option for when you are almost recovered but not yet cleared to come back to work?