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15 Tips To Make Teaching Easier!

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

Whether you are a first year teacher or or a veteran educator, each new school year brings with it new challenges. Regardless of time off, when the school year begins, it is off to the races. And, no matter how prepared you are, there will be more to do than you have time for. Simply put, to do all that is actually asked of you would keep any educator going at an unsustainable pace. The body reacts to mental stress in much the same way as physical stress. The human body and brain can go all out for no more than 10% of the time before being forced to drop down to sub maximal effort. High levels intense or prolonged levels moderate physical or mental stress causes the depletion of essential neurochemicals and nutrient fuels required for motivated, patient, reasoned, and enthusiastic performance. Even low level cognitive stress depletes necessary nutrients and brain chemicals needed for mental focus, energy, and good decision making. As a result, by the end of a normal teaching day, many educators feel completely drained with little energy remaining for family, recreation, or home life. No one wants to leave work or school feeling drained and worn out. Fortunately, you don't have to. Here are some tips you can use to leave school at the end of the day with enough energy remaining to enjoy your free time. These tips are meant to be followed in order and each one is key to your success.

Tip 1: Get a physical. Hear me on this! Regardless of age, you should not continually be fatigued or exhausted. If you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, you should be able to manage your weight to your satisfaction. You should feel good! Pay attention to your body and take care of yourself. A healthy, happy teacher is a better teacher. Even if you are otherwise healthy, the following are just a few signs that may warrant medical intervention before going further:

  • You can't sleep or do but are still tired in the mornings

  • You gain weight even though you make healthy lifestyle choices

  • You struggle to get out of bed every morning even when you get 8 hours of sleep

  • You are continually sad or angry

  • You lack motivation and have stopped finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy

  • You gain or lose weight and don't know why

  • You have lost interest in sex

If you don't feel well or you just have not had a check up in a while, get a full physical first. It is always a first step in improving your life.

Tip 2: Get up on time. Set that alarm clock early enough so you don't need to rush dressing, getting children ready, and eating breakfast. The last thing you want to do is start your day by activating your sympathetic nervous system (flight or flight system). Use a gentle alarm that wakes you up peacefully. Once activated, the stress response can control your entire day. You will make poorer decisions, more mistakes, and find yourself craving sugary-fat foods late in the evening.

Tip 3: Eat a good breakfast. Low glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins are ideal. The carbs give your body energy to get going and your brain the essential nutrients it needs to take on the day. Protein and fat give you staying power and helps you feel full until your next meal. Use organic, free range eggs, whole wheat bread and olive oil mayo for a great balanced breakfast. Try to avoid too much coffee with cream and sugar. That will set off your stress response right away and set you up for uncontrolled eating later in the evening. If you love coffee, try a stevia sweetened, organic mocha or chocolate protein powder in your decaf coffee with coconut creamer instead. I do this all the time. I love it. I call it my morning protein shooter! Here is a good place to locate easy to follow meal plans with grocery lists if you have no time for nutrient planning. If you must get fast food, be smart! Many fast food joints have somewhat healthy items now. Try to choose those and stay away from fried, high fat-sugary or fake foods.

Tip 4: Take your time driving to school! No road rage. Enjoy the drive in. Pray, meditate, listen to music, listen to a sermon, or just enjoy the peace and quiet. If you have kids, teach them to do the same. If you are running late, so what. Rushing and being stressed will only cause you to make mistakes, get a speeding ticket, or worse. Just accept that you are going to be late and get there before the students if you can. If necessary, call in and have someone cover until you arrive. All you can do is your best. Being late should be a rare event and when it happens, accept it and even enjoy it. If your lesson isn't ready, use a video, P.A.L.S reading, silent reading, or whatever you choose to keep your students busy for a few minutes. Calmly get things together once you arrive. The world will go on. It really does not matter that much and it is not worth the damage to your health the extra stress will bring. Remember, you set the tone in your classroom. If you are stressed, it is likely your students will be too.

Tip 5: Have a classroom routine, but be flexible. You will be lucky if you get 10% of your planned activities done each day. Roll with it. Students should be able to come to class and know what to do the first 10 minutes without you saying anything. As a matter of fact, they prefer it. Give them a few minutes to get settled, talk, and relax. And, give yourself that time to do the same. Say good morning or take care of the students who will inevitably come to your desk with needs before you even sit down. Allow for that.

Tip 6: Stay calm. Students will walk out of class, curse at each other and you, put their heads down on the desk, forget their supplies, come to school high, text while you teach...You get the idea. Look, just set fair rules, set fair consequences for breaking them, enforce them fairly, listen to your students, admit when you are wrong or don't know an answer, and pick you battles. Important rule! When you lose control of yourself, you have lost control of your classroom. Stay calm, be respectful to your students, and expect the same from them. You may need to write a student up or refer a student for discipline, but there is no reason not to do so in a polite, respectful manner. In doing so, you are modeling how to handle conflict in a mature manner. Always discipline children out of and with a loving heart. If you cannot, wait until you can. It is not just the kids. The same holds true when your schedule is changed halfway through the day or you lose your lunch or planning period because the boss needs you to cover another class. Just stay calm, for your sake. Again, it is not worth your health.

Tip 7: Enjoy your lunch. Eat a clean, filling salad or other healthy lunch, no junk food. Take a sandwich and go for a walk outside or go somewhere you can be alone to have a few minutes without noise. I enjoy walking a wooded trail outside during lunch. If you are an extrovert, you might enjoy lunch with pleasant colleagues. Just make sure you don't spend your lunch around toxic individuals. Have a morning and afternoon snack if you get too hungry. Just make sure it is healthy. Nuts, boiled eggs, a protein bar, banana...any of these will do. You can find easy, professionally designed healthy meal plans with shopping lists here.

Tip 8: Use TPT. I say this all the time. Don't recreate the wheel. Use Teachers Pay Teachers to find teaching resources when appropriate. Beg, borrow, or steal lessons. Get help. Ask your colleagues. They will support you.

Tip 9: Leave school on time each day. They say teaching is a 24-7 job and for many teachers it is. But understand this, teaching does not have to define who you are completely. It is a profession and there is a law of diminishing returns. Work smart, work hard, do a good job for your students and then go home. You have a life outside of school that is important. No one at the end of their life said they wish they had worked more. Usually any regrets involve the time not spent with loved ones and on things that mattered to them. Don't make that mistake.

Tip 10: Do a brief workout after school. Exercise has so many physical and mental health benefits that, as a teacher, it is a must. Exercise prevents and treats depression and anxiety as well as prescription medicines, fights disease and cancer, and helps maintain mental abilities. Walk, jog, hike, strength train, whatever you want. Just do it at least 3 times each week for a 20-60 minutes. It does not take much. If you go to a gym, find one that is on your way home rather than going out of your way. Here is a good place to find health enhancement and weight loss exercise programs.

Tip 11: Eat a healthy dinner. If you have completed steps 1-10, you should be hungry, but not craving bad foods. Don't wait too late to eat. Eat by 7 PM. Have your crock-pot full of butter beans flavored with bacon strips, stew, bean soup or roasted chicken. Enjoy quick beans and rice or bake some chicken, fish, or lamb. Choose a variety foods. Pre-planned menus are great resources for saving you time.

Tip 12: Do something fun. Eat dinner out with friends or your spouse. Have a hobby. The important thing is to enjoy life. So many times, we neglect this. And as a result, we grow tired, unhappy, and less productive. You need to have fun. Learn an instrument, go bowling, go dancing, listen to live music, anything. Just have some fun. Your health requires it!

Tip 13: Sleep early on a regular routine. In order to feel good and function at an optimum level, the body must be well rested. When the body is poorly rested, performance plunges. Chronic lack or poor quality sleep causes decreased brain function, hormonal imbalances, increased risk of heart disease, abnormal growth and development, fertility issues, poor immune and insulin responses, and an increased risk of making mistakes. While you sleep your body is working hard to repair damage, recover, build, strengthen, grow, and defend against illness. A key hormone in all this is Human Growth Hormone (HGH) also known as Youth Hormone. HGH peaks in adults between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM IF YOU ARE IN A DEEP SLEEP. Human growth hormone is why proper sleep balances hormones and blood sugar, decreases fat storage, improves cognitive functioning, builds lean muscle, and decreases depression and anxiety. So, being asleep by 10 PM is critical for physical and mental health, vitality, energy, metabolism, and weight management.

Tip 14: Take a day off. The school year is grueling for you and the students. Unfortunately, students will need days off and so will you. Take them and don't feel guilty about it. Don't give any assignments you will need to grade when you return. Take a long weekend with your spouse, your kids, or just sleep in. Whatever helps you recharge. I hate taking days off, but after 25 years of service as a public school teacher, I have come to see the wisdom in doing so. Remember, your students are people as well. They will need days off too. Yes, it will interfere with your lesson. Remember this, life is messy, no one is perfect so stop trying to be and stop expecting your students to be.

Tip 15: Hire a maid. Nearly every teacher I know whose partner works as well does this. Have a maid come in once a week to clean. You don't want to spend every Saturday "catching up" on chores. If both spouses work or if you are a single parent, get some help. It will cost a little, but it may end up helping you avoid costly stress-related doctor visits.

Well, there are my top 15 tips to help make teaching easier. Try these and let me know how your school year goes. Find me on facebook or visit my TPT store for resources that can make teaching easy!

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