Today is the first of March. At least here in the United States it is getting close enough to the end of the year that spring is in the air (some days) and the kids are starting to get antsy as sunshine streams through the classroom windows, but it is not close enough to summer vacation that the end is in sight. (And let’s face it, the students aren’t the only ones who get a bit of spring fever…) Some days all this is truly crazy-making.
In order to keep going and have a productive and enjoyable next few months, it is important to find ways to decompress. All of us have ways that we enjoy relaxing, but today I am going to share my top six favorites in no particular order. None are ground-breaking and maybe they are ones that you already use, but you might just find something new to try or remember something you have forgotten. Whatever the case, find something or several things that help you destress AND DO THEM. You will be a better teacher for it!
1. Take a nice long bath. It doesn’t need candles or bubbles or a glass of wine (though if you feel so inclined, go with whatever floats your boat). The warm water and maybe some good escapist fiction can really help your muscles and your mind to relax.
2. Go for a walk. It is always surprising to me how a nice leisurely walk, even when you are exhausted, can really recharge your batteries. Go by yourself and just let your mind wander or go with your significant other and/or children and get some family time in. However you do it, the time, exercise, and the fresh air will do you good.
3. Work on a favorite hobby. Occasionally set aside that stack of papers, ignore those after-hours emails, and let that bulletin board that you have needed to redo for two weeks wait one more day. Bake a batch of cookies; scrapbook for a few hours; dig in the dirt of your garden. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing that is not work-related, do it. Teaching is a calling and your students are important, but make sure you make some time for yourself as well.
4. Take ten minutes and enjoy a good cup of coffee (or tea or hot cocoa). Planning periods are already too packed with emails to return, papers to grade, and worksheets to copy, but take a deep breath. Set aside the occasional ten minutes at the beginning of your planning period to enjoy a good cup of coffee (maybe not the sludge in the teachers lounge…) and the view from your classroom window. You will be amazed at how much more productive you are after this.
5. Pet your pets. The calming effect that simply petting a cat or dog can have on you cannot be overstated. Take a moment when you get home from school or sit down to watch a little television to just pet your cat or dog. The purring of your feline friend or adoration in those canine eyes will do your heart good. There is a reason why therapy animals are becoming more and more common. Make use of your very own!
6. Get together with friends. Maybe these are fellow teachers. Maybe they are a group of girlfriends from college. Maybe they are a couple other moms on your block. Whoever they are, take time and get together with them to laugh and complain and just kick back. It doesn’t matter if it is sitting around someone’s kitchen or happy hour at your local country club. Forget about calories for a couple hours, have a drink or two of your favorite poison, and just enjoy yourself. The time together laughing and talking is some of the best medicine around.
When you have a thousand other things on your plate–your own children needing your attention, your house desperate for a good cleaning, all the baggage that goes with living–it can be easy to forget to take a little time for your own sanity. It might mean taking that bath at 10:30 at night or letting your students wait an extra day to get their essays back, but however you do it, find something that works for you.
Relax, have a great week, and…
This Week’s Featured Product
Great for cumulative review at the end of a term or review at the end of a standard unit, this project is a fun way for your students to get ready for exam time. On their own or in small groups, students will create review board games for themselves and their classmates. Versatile and effective, you will use this for many years to come! For more details or to download this product, click here!
This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher: What is the funniest excuse for not having an assignment done that a student has ever given you? Did you excuse the last assignment? Do you excuse assignments often? Why or why not?
For the student: What do you do to relax? How often do you do this? Do you need to do it more or less?
A Recipe from My Kitchen:
Strawberry Vanilla Simple Syrup
- 1 pound strawberries
- Fresh, in-season fruit works best here (I used berries that I froze in the summer for all winter to make this batch), but any nice berries from the store (even the frozen section) will work. If you are purchasing frozen ones, just make sure they don’t have additional sugar added.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Hull and chop strawberries (halves or quarters is sufficient), and place them in a sauce pan with the water and sugar.
- Over medium heat, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to go soft.
- Strain the liquid from the mixture using a fine mesh sieve.
- Set the cooked strawberries aside–these make great topping for yogurt or cereal later!
- Return the liquid to the pan, and cook for 10-20 minutes over low heat until your syrup gets to the desired thickness.
- Add vanilla.
- Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to enjoy!