5 Great Ways to Make Your Classroom a Healthier, Happier Place

Little moments can make a big difference. As teachers, we need to protect our health. We also are charged with protecting the children in our care. Let’s talk about some small things that can make a big difference in the lives of children (and teachers.) You can have a healthy classroom.

[callout]This blog post is sponsored by Staples. Office products power your office, but People Products power your people. Coffee, snacks, even desk-cleaning wipes – they make work feel like home and your team feel good. Learn more about People Products at Staples.[/callout]

1. Encourage the Use of Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing.

The first thing students do when they enter my classroom makes a big difference. They use hand sanitizer. While I encourage them to wash their hands frequently, they can’t always do that between classes.

A 2002 study found that telephones, desks, water fountain handles, microwave door handles, and computer keyboards are the most bacteria-laden culprits in our workplaces today.

So, hand sanitizer is important. Remember they should also use it when they leave the classroom. (They have been using the keyboards, after all, and need that protection.)

[callout]Get deals on hand soaps and hand sanitizers at Staples. I have a Purell touch free dispenser on my wall but I also have an extra pump sanitizer that I’ll use if a student starts sneezing or needs it.[/callout]

2. Clean Your Classroom.

Our janitor does a fantastic job. But as the computer lab instructor, I do a little extra. I started doing this eight years ago when I realized one week that every student who sat at computer eight was out with strep.  As I researched my suspicions, I found that an outbreak of the flu at an elementary school in 2008 was blamed on “infected computer equipment.”

Computers can carry germs.

I spray antibacterial electronics cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and wipe down keyboards at least once a week. But when sickness is happening, I’ll do it even more. Then, after I do this, I’ll go scrub my own hands with soap and water.

This is one of those little extras I do because I love the kids. After I started this weekly habit, I noticed that I didn’t get any “sick computers” any more. Kids still get sick, of course, but I believe I’m doing all I can.

[callout]You can pick up electronics wipes but I look for antibacterial cleaning wipes for the keyboard. Because I have so many computers, I use antibacterial electronics spray spray to make sure the keyboards are disinfected. Spray onto the microfiber cloth and then wipe the keyboard. Don’t spray the keyboards directly. Also disinfect other places where students touch a lot.[/callout]

3. Nourish Yourself When You Take a Break

Ninety seven percent of Americans snack, getting 24% of their calories from snacks. Snacking helps you keep your blood sugar level (especially if you have a long time between your breakfast and lunch, like I do.)

Look for healthy snacks and plan ahead. I keep almonds and walnuts at my desk for break. When I don’t plan ahead, I get hungry and eat “whatever.” I’ll find that by the afternoon, I have no energy. So, I have a snack cabinet where I stock healthy snacks for the week.

[callout]Plan ahead. Buy several weeks worth of healthy snacks.[/callout]

4. Drink Lots of Water

Seventy five percent  of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. The Mayo Clinic says you need roughly 8 glasses of fluids a day. Drink water or fluids continually. I keep a full water bottle at my desk. (I like the double walled water bottle [pictured] because it has no condensation and leaves no ring.)

Staying hydrated helps you think. It keeps you healthy.

[callout]Stock water in your room, or buy a refillable water bottle.[/callout]

I keep my double walled water bottle by my desk and filled. It helps me feel great and think more clearly when I’m hydrated.

I keep my double walled water bottle by my desk and filled. It helps me feel great and think more clearly when I’m hydrated.

5. Get a Good Chair

Several years ago, I started having knee problems. My husband is an industrial engineer. They often deal with ergonomics. He came and looked at my desk and work area. He said it was my chair!

He bought me a new chair for my birthday. (Most teachers can get their school to buy one, but it wasn’t the case for me.) That chair was one of the best investments we have made in my health! My knee problems were gone within the week!

Make sure your work area fits your build and helps you have good posture. I adjust my chair for me and do not let my students borrow it — ever. That chair is an investment in my good health.

[callout]Find an ergonomic chair with the proper support for your back, the elbows, and your height. My husband says that you need a chair where the height of the chair, position of the seat, angle of the back, and height of the armrest can be adjusted. The chair should promote good posture.[/callout]

Thrive! You Can Do It!

Teachers, take care of yourself! You are important!

As I wrap up this series of blog posts, I want to give a shout out to Staples and all they have been doing for teachers! I've had a great time as their Back to School Ambassador for teachers.

  • Staples has donated $10 million to Think It Up and are funding student projects as I type this blog post.
  • Staples has an incredible Teacher Rewards program.
  • Staples has even jumped into genius hour and have had students design school supplies. My son has the locker shelf and pencil bag designed by students and loves them.

And now, they're wanting me to help you nourish and take care of yourself! I hope you'll take time to check out all of their People Products.

This back to school time has been awesome! If you're still shopping, check out my highly recommended back to school supplies and my favorite things to buy at Staples. Thanks, Staples.

Take care of yourself, teachers! Have a healthy classroom!

[callout]Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)[/callout]


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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Frances DiDavide September 3, 2015 - 10:51 am

I agree with almost everything you have here. I do take exception to the use of any anti-bacterial product. The use of anti-bacterial products is one of many reasons so many resistant bacteria are on the rise and most of the germs we are trying to protect against are viruses. A good cleaning product is all that is needed, it will take care of almost any germs present. There are many products that are not anti-bacterial that are adequate for our needs.

Vicki Davis September 3, 2015 - 6:08 pm

There may be. The research I had read recommended antibacterial to get rid of the strep issue I had with the keyboard. I’ve read it both ways, however, I think the biggest issue is here — CLEAN THE KEYBOARDS. To not clean them is irresponsibility.

Candice September 11, 2015 - 5:56 pm

I 100% agree with you on the type of chair! I had an office job for years and was glued to my chair for 75% of my work week. At first I thought my twisted spine and other back issues were due solely to stress, but it also had quite a bit to do with my chair. Good to remember for my future classroom. Thank you for pointing that out.

Vicki Davis September 16, 2015 - 6:43 am

Yes. The chair makes a huge difference. I didn’t believe it either until my knee problems went away! Thanks for sharing your experience, Candice!

Ali Meyer September 18, 2015 - 12:23 pm

Very insightful! It’s always important to sanitize, especially when flu or cold season rolls around. I was actually really surprised that you said computers carry germs! You better believe I pulled out some sanitizing wipes and wiped down my keyboard right after you said that! :) Great blog!

Vicki Davis September 18, 2015 - 4:44 pm

I was shocked when I realized a keyboard had “strep throat.” So many kids were out, there was no way it was a coincidence! I looked it up and found out that my suspicions were correct. Of course — if you’re sharing it, it is a much bigger issue than if it is just your own. You still want to keep it clean, though!


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