As we flip the calendar on a new year, the big buzz word is always resolutions. We start with the best of intentions after a much needed recharge over the holidays and often fizzle before we even hit that first three-day weekend (It's okay- you're not the only one to tabulate how many days until the next trifecta of sleep). The planning, meetings, grading, paperwork, and oh yeah, teaching can zap our recharge time in an instant. As the battery drains, some component of the machine will feel the effects. Yes, we're teaching machines; there's no other way to describe all the ins and outs that make up our days. If we don't instill a proper maintenance plan, our students, families, health, or sanity will start to pay the price. Go ahead and plan a few wowzers as you kick start the New Year, but also try out these 6 quick and easy resolutions to benefit your health and take a little stress away from the everyday.
Arrive with Time to Spare. Nothing can throw off the whole day faster than a rushed entrance. If you're hanging up your coat as the buses are hanging a left into the parking lot, you haven't given yourself enough time to ensure a smooth start. Giving yourself a healthy window to attend to all that greets you as you enter the building will start the day at a proper pace. Let an amazing discussion during first period get your heart pumping, not a speedy scramble to get it all done before the tardy bell rings.
Plan on Lunch. Lunch is a chance to recharge mentally and nutritionally. It shouldn't be skipped or consumed at your desk while frantically grading. Make this a time to connect with colleagues and stay in the loop on what's happening outside of your own classroom. This is a chance to share thoughts and ideas on next week's lesson or last night's season finale. A little time to unwind with your fellow teachers can make a huge difference in the hustle and bustle of the school day.
Make Healthy Food Choices. What you put into the teaching machine has a big effect on what you get out of it! We have a lunch bin in the fridge at my house. I fill it on the weekend with enough yogurts, veggie bags, and fruit for the week. We've also got sweet and salty baskets on the counter. In the morning, it's easy to toss one of each item in lunch sacks and send everyone on their way. A little time on the weekend makes for guilt-free lunches all week. A snack stash of pretzels, granola bars, etc. is also a great addition to a desk drawer when those afternoon cravings hit or an after school meeting has you staying later than usual.
Personalize a Smile Zone. When you're having one of those days, a little reminder of life beyond standards and evaluations can do just the trick. Setting up a smile zone with family pictures, favorite vacation snapshots, inspirational quotes, etc. can be just the thing we need to refresh our perspective. Whether it's a collage on the cover of a notebook or a display at your desk, personalizing your space helps to keep you grounded.
Streamline Your Calendars. It can seem like there are a million things to do, and having that nagging feeling that you're forgetting one of them can take its toll. If you've got a separate work calendar, appointment calendar, family activity calendar, etc., something will inevitably get lost in the mix. Merging all the notable dates and times onto one master calendar is a must. Having it all in one spot may make you feel the need for more than twenty-four hours in a day, but it will also make the hours you do have easier to manage.
Make a Move. When you're working with students, don't do it sitting behind a desk! Be on the move as you interact with them individually and don't park yourself in any one spot in the classroom. I always found that not having a "true front" to the classroom helped with discipline because there's no chance for back of the room antics if there's not a designated back row! It's also a good idea to keep it moving when you're not working with students. Rather than always ending your communications with the hit of the send button, try responding to colleagues with some actual face-to-face time. This gives you a chance to stretch your legs and see what's going on in other parts of the building too.
Regular maintenance of a teaching machine is a must. The New Year is the perfect time to make yourself and your health a priority. Just a few minor adjustments will benefit your students, family, and sanity. Choosing any or all of the options from our list will have you well on your way to more stress-free days. When it comes to resolutions, quick and easy is the trick to long and lasting!
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