7 Morning routine MUSTS for new teachers
You need to get up on the right side of bed, off on the right foot, all those cliche’s when you embark on your first year teaching. You’ll need to be well rested and not feel rushed to avoid unnecessary anxiety on your first days of school. Here are seven tips I follow each morning, even after 14 years of teaching.
1. Go to sleep early
I know this isn’t in the morning, but getting to bed early will help you tremendously with your morning routine. Many school systems start quite early in the morning, and if you have any kind of commute you need to allot time for traffic.
By going to bed early, you allow your body the seven to eight hours of sleep you really need to be focused and attentive to your students. Plus, you will be more alert in the morning for your getting ready routine.
What does “early” mean? If you’re just coming out of college, 10PM might be early, but if you have to be at school by 7AM, you have a half hour commute, and it takes you 45 minutes to get ready in the morning, that means that you will have to wake up at 5:45AM. In order to get enough sleep you need to be in bed by 9:45PM. If you are like me, and you need to read for a while, or otherwise wind down before bed, you might need to be in bed even earlier. I know many teachers to hit the pillow by 8:30PM.
2. Don’t hit snooze
It is bad for your health. Study after study shows that hitting snooze is bad for your health. You are better off setting your alarm as late as possible (given enough time to get ready) and get up when it goes off.
According to Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., Director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic, hitting snooze prevents the body from getting the restorative sleep that it needs. You don’t really go back to sleep fully in the five minutes before the alarm goes off again, and if you do, that sleep is not deep enough to be helpful to your body.
3. Eat breakfast
You will need your energy. Odds are (as mentioned above) you are waking up early. Consider what time lunch is at your school. I wake up at 5:45AM for school every day and I have lunch at 11:50AM (really noon by the time the kids have cleared out). If I didn’t eat breakfast, I’d be starving by second block, let along lunch time.
Sure, you might be able to sneak a snack while you’re teaching, but don’t count on it. You don’t want to let your blood sugar get too low and drain your energy, or worse, make you dizzy.
Eat a nourishing breakfast. A pop-tart is not going to do it. A greasy fast food drive through meal is just going to make you feel awful. Oatmeal with raisins and fruit might or hardy cereal like Kashi. I know some teachers to make themselves a protein smoothie to drink on their way into work, but that all depends on the next step. If you need to give yourself a little time after eating breakfast before you can take care of your morning bathroom needs (i.e. poop) then you need to give yourself that time before you get to school.
4. Take care of bathroom needs
Let’s not sugar coat it here. If you need to poop in the middle of class, your options are limited. You can’t just leave a classroom of kids by themselves. You’ll either have to hold it until a time the students aren’t with you or you’ll have to get another teacher to watch your class while you go to the bathroom.
Never feel bad about asking a teacher in the hallway (who isn’t currently with students) to hang out with your kids for a minute while you go to the bathroom. Odds are you will repay them in the future. We are human beings and sometimes when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
As mentioned previously, if you are pretty predictable (i.e. you have to go within 20 minutes of eating breakfast) then you’ll need to time your eating around when you can go to the bathroom.
5. Choose comfortable shoes
Those cute heels might be calling you, and you might think they are comfortable (for heels), but have you ever worn them for eight hours while moving around a classroom? Trust me, your feet will thank you later for choosing flats.
I recommend that brand new teachers invest in some comfortable shoes before the school year begins. Flats with good arch support and clogs are the way to go as far as I’m concerned. I also wear ballet flats, but I put insoles in them to make them more comfortable for all day wear. I like these insoles.
6. Leave with plenty of time to spare
There is nothing worse on the first day of school, or any day for that matter, than rushing in late and having no time to prepare materials (and your mental state) for the students.
As a rule, I always try to arrive ten minutes before my “contract time.” Contract time is the time that your contract says you are required to be in the school building. You will save yourself a ton of stress and anxiety if you’re not scrambling in the morning.
7. Take care of in-school morning duties
Check your school mailbox and email before kids start entering your room. You want to present physically and mentally at the classroom door to greet them.
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