It is back-to-school season! Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to relax and enjoy a much-needed and deserved break! As the first day of school draws near for many of us, it is important to ensure that you are taking care of yourself both mentally and physically in order to be at your best for the year ahead. If you aren’t ready to start off the school year right, the odds of you being ready to embrace the idea of an active classroom is not great. Following are a few tips and reminders to help “sharpen” yourself to be the best version of you for your students:
Sleep is Important
We’ve all heard that sleep is important for both physical and mental health. Don’t ignore this! It is! Lack of sleep can lead to lower immunity to illness, decreased concentration and focus, more irritability and higher body weight. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day for adults. Embrace this recommendation and follow it!
Hobbies Reduce Stress
It has been said that hobbies reduce stress because they foster the mind, body, and emotions into a more relaxed state. Some hobbies are more conducive to reducing stress than others (i.e., reading, knitting, yoga, gardening, hiking, writing, and dance, to name a few), but it is important for you to find some things you love to do and to do them. Take some time each day or week to engage in activities that help restore your soul.
Activity is Necessary
Physical activity is a necessary part of life for both children and adults. Obviously, your students are wired to move, but so are you! Carve time out of each day for you to do some sort of activity, even if it is movement you think is insignificant. Any activity is better than no activity. Your health is important, and it is also super impactful if your students know you value activity.
Reflecting on the Past School Year
Reflect has a few connotations. For one, reflect on your past years and or experiences in teaching. How do you want this school year to go in comparison to those in the past? What worked well? What can you change to improve aspects of your teaching? Another connotation of reflection is meditation. This involves some time and patience while offering you. There are a variety of resources online to help with simple, beginning meditation that might be helpful with stress relief.
Plan for Communication
Obviously, a wise practice as the beginning of the school year approaches is to plan. Plan for communicating with parents, organizational practices in the classroom, expectations for students, obtaining classroom supplies, setting up work centers, creating lesson plans, posting bulletin boards, and setting up the classroom. Other blogs have insight on how to set up the classroom as an active learning space:
- Active Classroom Layouts
- A Teacher’s Perspective to Adding Flexible Seating
- 5 Tips to Stay Active During the School Day
Summertime lends itself to a more relaxed lifestyle for many, which may include your eating habits. Make the commitment now to eat right, as this is what’s best for you! Baby steps can result in huge changes. This can be as simple as committing to drinking 8 glasses of water per day or cutting down on the number of sodas or coffee-based drinks you consume per day. It may mean you decrease the amount of sugar you intake or increase the number of fruits or vegetables you eat (replacing some junk food you indulge in). There is no perfect diet, and keep in mind that “everything in moderation” is key. Don’t punish yourself by having absolutely no sweets, for instance. It’s better to allow yourself to eat the suggested serving size to satisfy your craving. Work with family members or a social group to help keep yourself accountable.
Teachers are notorious for playing to everyone else’s needs while putting their own on the back-burner. You must be the best version of yourself in order to give your best to your students. Therefore, along with the appropriate levels of sleep, physical activity, and nutrition, be sure to nurture your soul as well. Give yourself permission to treat yourself to that massage or pedicure because you deserve it. Take time to indulge in that television series you wanted to watch. Cut out some time to do some yoga or go for a distress walk. And don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. Surround yourself by supportive family and friends. And ask for help from your colleagues. Your students are counting on you.
Are You Ready for an Active Classroom?!
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.