Healthy Teachers

Every teacher learns from the advice of other teachers. “Never smile the first day.” “Whatever happens, make sure to follow through.” Some of the best advice for any teacher is to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.

 Kill the Germs

Sound like a no-brainer? Anti-bacteria hand liquid is one of the world’s greatest inventions.  Although it doesn’t kill all germs, it is one of the best defenses against the mighty tiny germ. Being able to wash with soap and water is not always an option. Start with putting hand sanitizer on the supply list at the beginning of the year and request it periodically throughout the year. Make a class rule that using a tissue is followed by a squirt of cleaner. Put them side by side.

Eat Healthy

Everyone knows that eating healthy keeps the whole body healthy. But being able to eat healthy doesn’t always happen. To eat really healthy takes planning ahead. Rushing to get to school without being late leads to a quick trip through the drive through at the local fast food restaurant. If this happens, order something healthy. Most restaurants have very healthy breakfast platter selections. But, don’t skip breakfast. It really is an important meal.

Don’t forget about lunch. Bringing a sack lunch ensures that it’s healthy. But, what happens when it’s missing? Check out the vending machines or school cafeteria. Healthy is the watchword these days. There’s something around that’s healthy to eat. Stay away from the candy and chips.  That quick sugar rush will not help with the rest of the afternoon.

An afternoon snack and dinner are two more important times to eat healthy. They provide strong nutrients and support the immunization system and keep it strong.

Basically, be prepared. Plan ahead with healthy snacks to eat at school.  Plan lunches and make them ready the night before so that they’re ready to grab and go. Sometimes the thought of cooking dinner is exhausting, but today restaurants are working hard to serve healthier menus.

Just make sure to keep working on maintaining healthy eating habits. Supporting a strong immunization system keeps a body strong. Food is fuel for that system. Healthy food is the high octane gas.  Junk food is the low octane gas with bad gunk added in to make the engine fall apart.  

Be Prepared.

Like with healthy meals, being prepared in other ways will ensure an overall healthy lifestyle and a strong immunization system.  If everything is ready to pick up without a single thought – the day flows smoothly. Seriously. Planning lessons a week in advance is the standard for most schools in case of absences. But, the person it really helps the teacher herself. Put bookmarks in the teacher manuals where the next lessons are. Stack the books in the order that they’ll be used. Make sure that any other materials needed for the lesson are ready and at hand. (not in the car or on the kitchen counter). If they’re going to be used on Friday, go ahead and bring them in on Monday. There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing everything’s ready to go!

How will this keep a body healthy? Less stress.  All scientists agree that stress lowers the ability to fight germs and viruses. Plus the positive feeling of accomplishing something that goes right, day after day, leaves the brain mentally positive as well. And when stress piles up, that high stress leads right into the next bit of advice, sleeping well.

Sleep Well

Teachers tend to work late grading papers, making activities, planning projects, and other million and one things that need to be done right then. This bit of advice also goes well with the one above (be prepared), but this one is stated a little different – plan a schedule and stick to it. If the day is scheduled, just like the classroom schedule, there is a better chance get the right amount of sleep that is needed to wake refreshed and ready to teach those inquiring minds.

Being well rested makes the body better able to fight off illnesses. Getting a good night’s sleep will also reduce stress. If there are continuous colds, sinus infections or insomnia, stress is probably one of the culprits. Get the right amount of sleep and when the morning comes, all the viruses and bacteria floating through the air are a lot less likely to attack.

When sick, take the day off!

Many veteran teachers never take days off from work. Getting sick, going to work, then going home sick usually ends with a longer amount of time missed and in a lot of cases, a more complex and dangerous infection. Many times, going to school sick make the students sick and a vicious cycle is started. Sometimes, taking a “mental health day” is needed. Many school systems frown on this practice and some even frown on sick days that last over two days.  Learn the signs and symptoms that herald an infection. Just don’t be afraid to take those sick days when they’re needed.

 Wash Your Hands

Yes, something as simple as washing hands can keep germs away. We’ve all seen little Johnny sneeze, wipe his nose with his sleeve and continue working – his sleeve resting on his paper and desk. Teachers are the lucky ones that get to handle his paper later when it’s graded.

After the swine flu raced across the world, all eyes were tuned in to the amount of germs, bacteria, and viruses that float through the air in a single minute. Teachers come in contact with items that are touched by children and adults millions of times with no idea where those hands have been. The Mayo Clinic released guidelines that stated, “When you wash, use warm water and soap and scrub for at least 15 seconds. Even with washing, avoid touching your mouth or eyes with your fingers.” If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizers help until soap and water become available.

 Keep moving

Teachers move all day long. Teaching is not a “desk jockey” career. Walking around a classroom is exercise, but to keep a body fine tuned to repel germs, it needs real exercise. Yes, that lovely thing no one has enough time to do. But teachers prepare, plan, and get things done. So, here are two ways to find time to exercise when the students aren’t around.

 1-After school, plan a route throughout the halls in the school to walk. Use a pedometer to mark the ¼ mile, ½ mile, and the mile. Then, decide how to do your exercise. Do it alone, invite others, or change the route, whatever.  Find something that will make it interesting to exercise at school before time to go home.

2- Before school, plan another walk by getting there before the students arrive.  It can be the same as the after school plan, or it can be a cardiovascular workout with  jumping jacks, jogging in place or even weight training. Yes, books are heavy. They can be used as hand weights. So can soup cans.

Find something that will work to make sure there is planned exercise most of the week. The results are looking and feeling better and an immunization system that will fight all of those bugs and germs better and faster.

Using some or all of these tips to stay healthy is a surefire way for any teacher to improve their health and their enjoyment of teaching. If these tips work, great!  But if they don’t, try to find out what does work and try them.  Teachers always try to take care of their students and sometimes they do this to the determent of their own health. Remember, no one can teach or help a student at home sick. Stay healthy.