Is it even practical to have morning routine habits in our busy teacher lives?
Actually, famous people like Steve Jobs, Margaret Thatcher, and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few, devised routines for their mornings.
Steve Jobs began his day by looking in the mirror asking himself ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If the answer was ‘No’ too many days in a row, he knew something had to change.
Margaret Thatcher listened to Farming Today every morning at 5 am. Benjamin Franklin spent his first 3 hours from 5 am contemplating the question ‘What good shall I do today?’
Imagine the high-pitched beep of an alarm cutting through the morning air, forcing you awake. Perhaps you groan as you reach out, your fingers grazing your phone. But before you can tap the snooze button, you start to fall asleep.
Did you know that pressing the snooze button confuses your brain and body and causes you to feel groggy throughout the day. You can’t afford such a thing. Teaching a bunch of kiddos requires your full attention and energy.
Perhaps you wouldn’t call yourself a morning person but I find that my students get the best out of the day, when I get my morning routine habits in order and prepare myself.
Morning routine habits are an essential time for our students, setting the tone for the day. So why not do it for ourselves? It sets the tone for the rest of the day. That means prepping, planning, and getting things done.
Morning routine habits need only take 30 minutes. After all teachers don’t have extra time in the morning. Some of the items may vary depending on your lifestyle, but all can be adjusted. Don’t try to complete them all. Pick and choose what suits you.
Waking up two hours before school starts is not for the faint of heart. But it would help if you woke up early, to get things done before you leave for school. Start with a smooth 10 minutes more first and keep at it until you find your sweet spot. If you can, try to wake up at the same time each morning as it helps to train your body and mind to make waking up easier.
Hey, don’t use that snooze button on your alarm or phone! It may seem like your best friend, but it’s your enemy. Your snooze my feel like the best thing ever, but research has shown that it confuses your body and brain. You see, your body starts preparing for waking up a couple of hours before your alarm goes off, releasing chemicals you need to be alert. Hitting the snooze interrupts your normal sleep cycle, causing you to feel groggy the rest of the day.
Doing this may not sound like fun in the beginning, but once you try it, you’ll never go back. It’s the best of the morning routine habits to conquer. Why? Because your body becomes regulated when you get up at the same time every day so that your sleep/wake cycles are on track. You’ll feel less fatigued and sleepy throughout your day.
Start keeping a large glass of water beside your bed. Before you even get out of bed, drink the dang water. Your body dehydrates during the night, so you need to replenish it. Drinking water will also help reduce the morning fog and grog that follows so many into their workday despite multiple cups of coffee. If your scared bugs might drop in it overnight, cover it.
Now that your body is back to its healthy fluid balance, take a few minutes to do simple breathing exercises. It’s as easy as timing your breaths to take six to ten deep breaths through one minute. Timing your breaths will force you to focus on your breathing and your body. It helps you to wake up and calm yourself for your day.
To get your body moving, do gentle stretching. It will also help to ease you into the process of getting ready and the day ahead. Stretching has long term benefits as well, including better circulation and flexibility overall. I use my Pilates Reformer. It makes for a great little fast workout.
Make your bed is a great way to feel you’ve accomplished something first thing. It gives the illusion that all is tidy even if the house is not fully neat. A peaceful haven to return to at the end of the day.
I know a principal who set up her outfits for six days each weekend. If you can’t think a week ahead, then try to prepare what you’re going to wear the night before.
It will stop you wasting time procrastinating over what you will wear and whether you have enough time to iron that blouse or shirt. You want morning routine habits to leave enough time to complete your most important task before school starts.
It’s always good to be thankful. Think, ‘What am I thankful for and why?’ It will start your morning routine habits with a positive mindset spin on your day and keep you present through the awkward moments.
If you can, write down what you are thankful for may remind you of the good things in your life. I also use the ‘You Version’ app, Morning Story. It only takes 5 minutes, but the video talk gets you thinking about others and not just yourself.
Be it friends, family, or even a colleague, eating breakfast with others prioritises the relationships in your life and will help to put your day into perspective.
The glorification of busy has morphed into the glorification of eating meals on the go. A Protein Shake while driving to the office, eating lunch delivery food at your desk, or snacking on a granola bar while taking the kids to ball practice.
When we eat like this, our brains don’t fully register that we are eating. It’s just one more time when we tune out of our lives while rushing to the next thing.
Taking only eight to ten minutes to stop, put your phone down, and enjoy your breakfast (no matter what it is) will help you key into your life. If you can, try to breakfast outside in the sun. Great way to wake up the body.
Try to write your to-do-list for the week on Friday for the following week. If you need to tweak it each day, make your to-do list the night before. I prefer no more than three tasks because they’re easier to remember and achieve. Each morning check it to remind you what the jobs are.
It’s best to keep one to-do-list for both school and home as you only have one life. My motto is Keep it stupid-simple, then you will always succeed. If there is a task that you’re dreading, plan to knock it out ASAP. It will be a relief, and you can move on with your day.
You may not have time to add learning into your morning routine, but at least throw a book in your school bag. It’s good to be seen by your students to be reading. If you’re an elementary teacher, then reading during silent reading periods is a great way to motivate your students to learn.
Continued learning, be it for any area of your life, is a process that takes time and commitment. As a professional teacher, you need to be always learning and keeping up to date. You only benefit from it.
As teachers, we don’t have hours to devote to morning routine habits, like Steve Jobs, Margaret Thatcher, and Benjamin Franklin; But maybe you can spare thirty minutes of your morning to start on the right foot (or breath). You may not have enough time in your morning to check off all nine items. Heck, you may only have time for one or two. Whatever you do enjoy it!
Learn to prioritise to positively impact your teacher life.
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