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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take care of yourself, teachers! Have a healthy classroom!
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
- Simple advice for coping with stress at work.
- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)