The warm breezes of summer are lingering through the first few weeks of September, but the free time I had a few weeks ago are a memory traded in for the miracle, but time-consuming experience, that is teaching.
Since everyone knows that teachers are lucky enough to get summer’s off, we shouldn’t complain when the most wonderful time of year approaches again.
And most of us don’t because we love what we do, but...
I’d be lying if I said getting up by alarm clock at 5am in the dark is enjoyable (and I’m a morning person!).
The past week and a half have been filled with tremendous professional highs, with an amazing start to the school year and ridiculous physical lows as my aging body isn’t bouncing back as quickly as I’d like it to, but I’m hopeful.
Routines are such an essential part of a teacher’s life. Whether it’s the bell that starts the day, the structure of the class period or the regularity in scheduled classes or subjects that they teach, our bodies become accustomed to these structures. So the freedom of summer offers a needed contrast that is often challenging to return from.
But what teacher doesn’t enjoy a challenge?
With the excitement of meeting my new classes, orchestrating opportunities to develop a positive and safe learning environment and making meaningful relationships with the students within the community, the school day whizzes by in a flash, fortunately not leaving time for the physical response to slow me down.
Loving what we do as educators, makes it easy sometimes to not take care of ourselves personally. Free periods are spent conferring with kids or collaborating with colleagues. We miss meals, forget to use the bathroom (sometimes all day) and drink tons of coffee in order to power through the day. All in the name of productivity and efficiency.
It isn’t until I get into the car that my body starts to shut down and by the time I get home, I’m grateful to make it to prime time without passing out.
But there are ways we can make sure we take care of ourselves while we teach; after all, if we can’t do what’s best for ourselves, we won’t be able to help kids.
Here are some possibilities:
- Try to start getting to bed earlier - make the conscious choice to DVR the late shows and read before bed instead.
- Try to eat three healthy meals a day where you actually sit down. Clear the schedule for at least 20 minutes and enjoy the meal.
- Keep snacks in your desk to help keep you going.
- Drink lots of water.
- Use the bathroom when you need to. Holding it isn’t good for your body.
- Exercise helps, so if you can take a break during the day, go for a short walk. Today we went for a walk outside during lunch and when I returned to my afternoon classes, I felt much better.
- Dress comfortably, especially comfy shoes.
- Learn to say no when you are feeling overwhelmed; we all need to take time for ourselves.
- Do something for yourself at least once a week, something special that will make you happy. You deserve it.
So much of our days are spent in service of others: our families, the kids, and our colleagues, that we often put ourselves last. Remember that you are just as important as the others in your life.
What will you do for yourself today that will you be the best you for everyone else? Please share
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.