Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you had a great Week 1 of the Whole Teacher 30 Day Challenge. Now that school is back into full swing for all teachers, really focus on make yourself a priority this week. You need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of others.
Enjoy this week, and dance around after making a new playlist today!
Happy Friday, teachers! The school year is officially back into full swing, and I bet most of you are working your butts off this week. Thank goodness it’s Friday, am I right? This weekend make sure to have some fun and put the work down. Just like you students, you need to play. Yes, I said play!
We think of play as something for children, but studies show that adults benefit from play too. A few benefits of play include relieving stress, improving brain functioning, boosting creativity, and helping your relationships. How awesome is that?
Maybe you don’t love running around. That’s okay. Play can be crossword puzzles, games, sketching, or any activity that you do for pure enjoyment. Choose play that makes you happy!
Grab a friend, your partner, or children this weekend and get out and play!
***Looking for more information on the benefits of play? Check out these links:
The National Institute for Play
NPR: Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too
This morning I woke up feeling really under the weather. All I wanted to do was crawl back in bed and sleep for a few more hours. Luckily, I started to feel better with a little more rest, but it got me thinking about the days of teaching, especially going back to school and getting sick from being around all the students again. I remember throwing together dreaded last minute sub plans when I was so sick I could hardly move from bed, and other days sucking it up and dragging myself to school because the thought of sub plans seemed worse than just going to work. This was until I started preparing for being sick at the start of the year.
Since being sick isn’t something you can normally predict like vacation, it adds the pressure to send sub plans early in morning so the students have something to do that day. What I learned was a small amount of work on the front end can save you a ton of work on those mornings you’re sick. Here are some ways to prepare for the days that you need to take care of yourself that’ll help you be less stressed and let you focus more on getting well.
Way To Prepare For Being Sick
- Have a sub binder. Having a sub binder will save you a lot of worry when you can’t make it to school. It can be an actual binder, a Dropbox, Google Drive, or on your school’s driver. Just make sure that it’s accessible to others. I recommend having in your binder:
- Class schedule- This is a mistake that can cause a lot of confusion for a sub. If your schedule or room changes, make sure to include every day and room numbers!
- Classroom rules and procedures– Having these available for the sub makes it much easier for them to enforce the rules.
- Seating chart (with pictures if possible)– The sub will appreciate this, and if students act out then they can report who the culprit was.
- Student helper in each class– Choose a student who can be trusted to be a helper to the sub in your classes. This gives them someone to turn to if they are unsure.
- Packets of review activities for students- Students could always use time to review important standards, so spiral back in those important standards. Make 3-5 packets ahead of time, so you’re covered. Avoid new concepts that students can’t complete independently. This opens up the door for off task behaviors.
- Use online resources to make sub plans. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use Teachers Pay Teachers or other online resources so you aren’t stressing. As mentioned above, spiral in important concepts for students to practice that they need to review for upcoming lessons or exams.
- Let a colleague and a few students know where your sub plans are. If it’s a binder or some other form of sub plans, make sure someone knows where they are if you’re sick. You don’t want to get an email or call saying no one could find them.
- Plan activities that require little work from the sub. This saves the sub from having to run around the classroom answering individual questions, students getting off task, or other chaos breaking out.
- Set clear expectations for students at the beginning of the year for when they have a sub. Make sure you talk about expectations for when you aren’t there at the beginning of the year and review often. You won’t have to worry as much about students behavior while you are trying to get better.
In honor of eating more vegetables for Day 4 of the Whole Teacher Health & Wellness Challenge, let’s talk about healthy eating for teachers. It’s not easy to eat a balanced meal when you are running around trying to get your next class ready, and you have a stack of papers that need graded AND it’s your only lunch/prep period of the day. Often you reach for easy pre-packaged foods or snacks to keep you going. Problem is that a lot of those things are filled with sugar that leave you feeling sluggish a few hours later. So how do you find the time to eat healthy in the chaotic day that is known as teacher life?
Well, it’s not always easy, but the teachers who stick to healthy eating are the ones who know it really matters and plan for it. You have to make a conscious choice to say to yourself that your body matters and it needs to be fueled by the right stuff or all the tricks and tips in the world won’t stick. Make yourself a priorit and here are a few ideas to help you in your journey to eating healthy as a busy teacher!
Eating For Busy Teachers
- Eat a healthy, filling breakfast. I never ate breakfast before I became a teacher, but I quickly learned that I had to or by lunch I’d be running on fumes. Think of breakfast as setting the tone for your day. I like to have two eggs with some berries and toast, overnight oats (there are tons of recipes on Pinterest), or a green smoothie in the morning. It keeps me full longer and I don’t feel the sugar rush and crash that granola bars or breakfast bars often cause.
- Skip the staff lounge snacks. The staff lounge is a place of temptation for any busy teacher. There always seems to be some pastry or snack that looks so delicious and easy to grab and go. Don’t do it! Thank whoever brought in food, but skip it.
- Bring your own snacks. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want a snack whenever you have a chance to shove food into your mouth during the busy day. Instead of grabbing the previously mentioned staff lounge snack, bring your own healthy snacks. Yogurt, veggies with hummus, rice cake with peanut butter (or any nut butter), or some nuts are some great options.
- Don’t work while you eat. You may be tempted to multi-task, but don’t. Take the time to just enjoy your breakfast or lunch. When you work while eating, you won’t notice when you’re actually full and might overeat. Also, you need a break to just relax during the day, so use this time as a good mental break.
- Plan your lunches and pack the night before. If you’re one of those super prepared people, then plan your lunch on Sunday. But if you’re like most of us, preparing your lunch the night before is a big enough of a win. Taking lunch will save you from grabbing something not so healthy out of desperation. I like to do it right after dinner when I’m already in the kitchen. In the morning it’s so much easier to grab and go than having to pack.
- Cook enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch. This goes hand in hand with planning your lunch the night before. If you cook extras, take them in the next day. As you clean up the kitchen, put your leftovers straight into containers and in your lunchbox.
- Eat your veggies. I say this a lot, but vegetables are so important. If you include them in every meal, you’ll feel better. I promise! Try a green smoothie in the morning and throw in spinach and kale with you berry smoothie to make it green, or a veggie omelette. Try cauliflower rice with your stir fry to get some extra veggies in your diet or try roasting vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic as a side as well (I love broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts this way.)
- Change how you think about food. As a society we think of food as something we earn through working out or working hard. Often people say, “I earned this cookie,” or something similar to justify their eating. Using food as reward isn’t going to help you eat healthier because as a teacher you probably deserve a million cookies for all the great stuff you do daily. It’s okay to have that cookie, but stop telling yourself you earned it. Look at it as a treat and enjoy it instead of justifying it.
* Remember, everyone is different so always make sure to eat according to your body and your doctor!
One thing that every teacher needs is a teacher best friend or teacher bestie at work. This is a person you can have lunch with, bounce ideas off of, and pop into their classroom whenever you’re both free to talk. Your teacher bestie helps you stay sane on those days you feel like you might not make it, and you do the same for them. It’s an extremely important relationship to have, but beware the dark hole of negativity that can appear when two teachers get together on a hard day of school. This negativity does no one any good, and can set a bad tone for the year.
Instead, make a promise to your bestie and yourself to stay positive this school year. Having a friend to share positivity with throughout your school day will keep you from sinking into a dark hole of negativity, and you’ll feel better mentally and physically. Your positivity will make the small things that go wrong seem less cumbersome, and I bet your students will pick up on it and feel more positive too.
Here are some of my favorite ways to for your teacher bestie and you to make sure you have a positive year all year:
Teacher Bestie Positivity Tips
- Start conversations with asking each other, “What’s the best thing that’s happened today?” This way you start thinking about the positive right away. You’re way less likely to get sucked down the dark hole of negativity this way.
- Be honest with each other about attitudes. Make a promise to one another to let each other know if the others attitude is turning too negative. It’s okay to complain briefly, and sometimes it’s needed. The problem is when it continues and becomes a habit. Stop negative conversations if they go on for more than a few minutes and find something positive to talk about.
- Focus on solutions instead of complaining. If one of you is having a difficult time, be solution based. Let the person explain the issue, and work to come up with ideas to help. It’s okay to talk about what is happening, but don’t let it turn into just a complaint.
- Collaborate if possible. Similar to finding solutions, sometimes one of you might already have the answer or resource. If you teach the same subject or have ideas you can share on classroom management, then help your bestie out! They’ll do the same for you.
- Don’t just talk about work. Make a point to talk about all the other great things in each other’s lives. It’ll help keep work negativity away, and you’ll become better friends.
- Find activities to help manage stress. Maybe you spend 5 minutes listening to peaceful music together in the afternoons or take a long walk outside on your prep. It could be quick stretching session or yoga after work. It’s whatever works for you and your teacher bestie to help relieve stress.
Happy September 1st and day one of the Whole Teacher Health & Wellness 30 Day Challenge! I’m excited to be challenging all you amazing teachers out there to take the time to take care of yourself as the school year kicks off. The challenge focuses on physical and mental health with a variety of activities from exercise to eating healthy and self-care.
Share your progress in the comment section here or with us on Twitter @wholeteaching or on Instagram @wholeteacherteaching. Everyone who shares will be entered to win some Whole Teacher Teaching swag at the end of the challenge. The more you share, the more you’ll be entered to win!
I’m ready to go! Are you?!
I’m excited to announce that tomorrow, September 1st, is the kickoff of the Whole Teacher Health and Wellness 30 Day Challenge! This challenge is to help all you amazing teachers focus on yourself a little more as you get back into the swing of things. Starting the school year off with health and wellness in mind will help to start routines (see yesterday’s post for more on routines), and make your health a priority.
Whole Teacher Teaching is about being the best teacher you can be by putting your health first because healthy, happy teachers are more effective in the classroom. I hope you use this 30 day challenge as a chance to focus on your health and wellness every day for 30 days and continue after. This isn’t a challenge that should stress you out. You can jump in any time to the challenge, and remember, if you miss a day or two that it’s okay. This is for you! Enjoy it, and make it fun! Grab a friend and get ready!
Remember to follow me on Twitter @wholeteaching and share daily how your 30 day challenge is going! When you share you’ll be entered to win some new Whole Teacher Teaching swag!