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Helping Teachers in need
The high-pitched beep of the alarm cut through the morning air, forcing Janet awake. Groaning, she reached out, her fingers grazing her phone. But before she could tap the snooze button, she recalled the tidbit of information about a morning routine she had received days prior. What was it? Oh, yes. Pressing the snooze button confuses your brain and body and causes one to feel groggy throughout the day. Janet could not afford such a thing. After all, teaching a bunch of kiddos required her full attention and energy.
The things I do for my kids, she thought as she grabbed the cup of water from her nightstand, sipping on the warm liquid that quenched her thirst. That had been another exciting piece of information that she had received – drinking water after waking up has some anti-grogginess benefits that even coffee can’t help. Though, admittedly, she could always go for a cup of joe in the mornings.
Janet wouldn’t call herself a morning person; in fact, she hated being up at the crack of dawn, but she knew that she and her students got the best out of their days when she got up early and prepared herself. Initially, she had a difficult time finding a schedule that hadn’t required her to be up with the sun. Or, one that took so much out of her swamped day. Luckily for Janet, she had found herself a morning routine that only needed thirty minutes out of her day.
I mean, who wants a morning routine that will take you hours to complete? Thirty minutes of physical activity, five pages of Morning Pages, write a long to-do list, and twenty minutes of journaling, just for starters. Teachers do not have that kind of extra time in the morning.
So, is it even practical to have a morning ritual 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?’
Like Janet, I have not always been a morning person, but over time, I have found a reason to be a morning person. I can’t change the school schedule, so I needed to make this work and love it too.
After three weeks of continually being 20 minutes behind the clock when I worked my first teaching position, I decided that I had a 20-minute problem.
So, I set my alarm clock to wake me up 20 minutes earlier than usual. Expectedly, things aligned, and I started being 5 to 10 minutes early to school. Gradually I upped it to one hour before school started, rather than prep after school. Way to go!
We have morning routines for our students because it sets the tone for the rest of your day. A healthy classroom morning routine is consistent, with clear classroom procedures that students know.
Morning Routines are about setting the tone for the day. A strong classroom morning routine is consistent, with clear classroom procedures that students know.
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This time is an essential time for our students, so why not do it for ourselves? That means prepping, planning, and getting the things done that you can’t do while you’re at school. It sounds like a lot, right? Well, it is. There is no easy way around that.
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. 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 your morning routine 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 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 Americans glorify busy. 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 the weekend. 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 a morning routine, but maybe you can spare thirty minutes of your morning to starting on the right foot (or breath). You may not have enough time in your morning to check off all nine parts of these aspects. Heck, you may only have time for one or two. Whatever you do enjoy it!
After Janet had completed the nine easy steps in the 30-minute morning routine, she found that she felt livelier and revving up to go for a good day in the classroom. In fact, unlike all of the other methods she had seen, this one made it much easier for her. Rather than struggle to get everything done, Janet found that the thirty minutes out of her day had prepared her for a long day. She was no longer worried about getting on time because she would already be up, planned, and ready to go.
It was a stark contrast from a few days before where she had awoken late; she had been frazzled and cranky, which often showed in her work despite how hard she had tried. It had been in that moment when she decided she needed to make a change. For herself and the kids, she wanted to help. She expected them to be at their best; the least she could do is be at her best too.
“Good morning!” She chirped to her classroom, full of little kids of all colours and sizes. One thing that came out of this morning routine was the improvement in the energy of her class. All the children met her with the same enthusiasm and vibrance she gave them. If she were being honest, seeing the joy written in their smiles and giggles made the change in her morning plans all the more appealing. It warmed her heart to see their glowing eyes as they looked upon her.
In unison, all of the children said, “Good morning, Mrs Walkman!”
“Are we ready for a good day?” She asked them with a bright smile.