Being a healthy teacher can be a challenge. Teachers are busy. Perhaps the busiest of people. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make time to take care of yourself and be healthy. In this five-part series, Healthy Teacher, we will explore the why and how of being a healthy teacher.
The first post in this series will look at the WHY…why should you be a healthy teacher? Beyond the obvious health reasons for being healthy, we will look specifically at how keeping yourself healthy will affect your job as a teacher…in a positive way.
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Let’s dive in and get real teacher friends. Sometimes it can be hard to take a look in the mirror and really self-evaluate our lives. But I am here to tell you friends, it is necessary and you will thank yourself in the end. So are you ready to become a healthy teacher?
Let’s look at five key reasons you should start today on the path to becoming a healthy teacher. You will see how each of these key points is directly related to your job as a teacher. So let’s get started!
An Unhealthy Teacher is a Recipe for Disaster
Have you noticed that as the year drags on we start to lose footing on all the New Year’s resolutions we made January 1st? By this time of year, many are finding that their resoulutions are long forgotten. Interestingly enough, this is also the time of year when teachers are most stressed.
Upcoming testing and assessments across grade levels paired with teacher evaluations and observations can be a recipe for disaster if you are unhealthy and not caring for yourself. If you are like I was, living off caffine and sugar, energy drinks, and a stash of chocolate in your desk, then you are setting yourself up for disaster.
When we don’t take care of our bodies, they cannot function for us the way we need them to. Sure we know that a balanced diet and plenty of sleep is the first step. We will talk about food in Part 2 of this series. But it isn’t just about what you eat.
If you don’t take a wholistic approach to caring for yourself, you are begging your body to rebel. Headaches and fatigue are not going to make life inside or outside the classroom enjoyable. You will find yourself with little to no motivation both at home and at school.
Number one reason you need to be healthy? You can’t afford not to, because if you don’t start taking care of your self teacher friends you will find yourself on the brink of Teacher BURNOUT…if you aren’t already there.
Healthy Teacher: Lead By Example
Do you teach your students to eat healthy and get a good nights sleep each night so they can be at their top performance in class? Um…do you hear yourself?
The realization that something was off in my own self-care routine was a moment when my students were eating lunch with me in our classroom one day. I sat there watching my students eating the school provided lunches (don’t get me started on that one) or their sugar filled meal from home, and I began a dialogue about eating healthy and making healthy choices.
The problem arose when a very bright student piped up and said, “Mrs. Shipley, but you eat a candy bar for lunch everyday!” She was right…and I was busted!
Here I was, spouting the healthy choices rhetoric and I, the leader, the example to my students, was not walking the walk. Um…see a problem with this?
I made the decision to change right there! I began a “HEALTHY CHOICES CLUB” at lunch where I would eat lunch with my students each day. Sure I gave up my duty free lunch, but the connections I made with my students (something we need more of in light of recent events in Florida), were well worth it.
Our Classroom Challenge
I used a House Point system similar to Harry Potter in my classroom. As a class we made a chart of what we thought different foods were worth point wise. The students decided this as a group. Suprisingly, they were pretty fair! They decided that if a student ate fruit and vegetables(something they almost always avoided at lunch) they received 1 house point. If they ate an entire salad (my lunchroom offered full salad meals as an option), they got 2 house points.
Students also decided that if they got ice cream, chips, cookies, or other sugar filled goodies at lunch, they would lose a house point. If Mrs. Shipley didn’t eat a healthy lunch, they all got 2 house points. Talk about motiation for me!
By week 3 of our journey to become a healthy classroom, I consistently had students eating WHOLE SALADS for lunch. The lunch room new that when my class came through they would serving up lots of green beans and mixed vegetables. Parents started reaching out wanting to know why their child was requesting carrots and ranch for their lunch boxes instead of hot Cheetos and Little Debbie snacks.
SUCCESS! Not only did behavior problems in my classroom start to dwindle, their academic performance rose! Go figure…and it all started with me actually doing my job and setting the example.
Be A Better Teacher
Not only did my students become better students, I became a better teacher. I found that my ability to be more engaged and have a deeper connection with my students actually allowed me to be a better teacher for them.
No, I didn’t magically learn new methods or teaching techniques, but I was able to gain deeper insight into what my students actually needed to be successful academically. I was better able to assess their needs, adjust my lessons accordingly, and meet them where they were at…all because my body and brain were now functioning at their full capacity.
It’s amazing what happens when you give your body what it needs to function at it’s top perfomance. I was more focused, happier, less stressed, and a BETTER TEACHER for my students.
Healthy Teachers Love Their Jobs…MORE!
If you a teacher who pours your heart and soul into your profession, you may not think that loving your job more than you do now is possible. Teacher friends yes it is! The proof is in me. I loved my job in the classroom and I loved my students. But, I am not going to pretend that I didn’t go home each and every day exhausted and often sick because my body was fighting off some germ that had hit my school!
Once my students and I began our healthy journey I started noticing that I wasn’t going to bed each night dreaming of teacher memes about it being Friday already! You know the ones I am talking about! I actually went to bed at night excited to get up the next morning!
Getting up earlier was also a side effect of our healthy change. Suprisingly enough, when you give your body what it needs, it functions more efficiently! No longer was I hitting the snooze button 5 times before DRAGGING myself out of bed.
I was excited to get up…excited to get to school, excited to see all my students smiling faces! They usually met me at the door and were eager to tell me what they brought for lunch! Winner Winner Chicken DINNER!
I actually loved teaching the way I did my first year in the classroom! No longer was I on edge and I could handle the other stresses that come with teaching with a smile! I loved my job more than I ever have! You will too!
Get More Done
Being able to get up and going each morning meant I could get to school early and get so much done before my students, and my unhealthy co-workers, got there. The copy room was empty (HALLELUJAH ??????)! The laminator wasn’t being used. Heck, no one else was around to stop me for a gripe session!
I started noticing that I could get so much done in that hour before school starts. I also found that I got to leave work where it belonged, AT WORK!
Since I wasn’t bringing work home with me, I had time after school to get more done. Grocery shopping was more enjoyable because it was a rushed 15 min job! I wasn’t mindlessly throwing things in the basket or forgetting the one big thing we needed because my mind was on the 15 school related things I still had to do when I got home.
BONUS: If you are a teacher author and have a shop on TPT…yeah I had way more time for my side hustles as well!
By making sure my body was healthy and runnng efficiently, I was able to be more productive and this meant more family time on the weekends. I was a happier, healthy, better teacher….but most importantly I was a happier, healthy, better mom and wife!
So there you have it teacher friends. The WHY behind becoming a healthy teacher! This is a five part series and next up we will tackle how to feed your body so that it runs at peak efficiency! It might not be how you think!
CHALLENGE: Think about your WHY! WHY do you want to get healthy teacher? Is it because a health related issue has come up? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want more energy? What is your WHY? I would love to hear from you! Share your WHY in the comments below!
Are you already facing Teacher Burn Out? Check out this blog post on how I survived and overcame burnout as a teacher!
Happy Teaching Friends,