August 2021

Let’s Get Healthy

 

By Dr. Amy L. Holland, Geography Teacher
Grimsley Junior High School, Bentonville, Arkansas

School’s out for summer….!!! I feel like I just started singing this anthem ballad a few days ago. Yet, as I go shopping, I see signs of back to school EVERYWHERE! Although I love the beginning of school and the excitement it brings, when I see the back to school supplies and signage, it takes every ounce of restraint for me to not run out of the store screaming madly.

I have a love and hate relationship with the beginning of school. I love the newness of starting over, building new relationships with students, and getting my students excited about all things relating to geography. I hate the early mornings and the days of getting back into a healthy routine. So, how does a teacher stay healthy during the first few weeks of school? Let’s look at some expert advice to help us stay emotionally and physically healthy as we start the new school year.

The Center for Disease Control has recommendations concerning student health and ways teachers can help students maintain a healthy lifestyle. They provide expert advice for our students, so I would like to flip it and make it applicable for teachers. Teachers are role models anyway, so this should be a walk in the park, right?

The first piece of advice and something we often fail to do.. DRINK WATER! Of course this is a vital part of life for all humans, let alone teachers. After many conversations with colleagues I have found that teachers rarely drink enough water during the day. Our schedules don’t provide ample opportunity for this so we often sacrifice our time and our bathroom breaks, meaning…. we drink nothing. That’s a lie, I drink my coffee in the morning and lots of it. So, here’s a new goal for myself and others. If you are going to drink your coffee, follow up with water as well. I’m not going to lie and say I’ll replace my coffee...it’s not happening.

Next piece of advice, prizes and awards should not be candy or other sugary treats. Okay, so while that is awesome advice, I love a cheat day now and then. Many times I’ll treat myself to a donut for making it to Friday! Since I’m on this new healthy lifestyle trend, my new goal is to treat myself to something sustainable, like a trip to the beloved dollar store (who doesn’t love this) or maybe a free tour of our local art museum. Shopping and art definitely help me clear my head and get ready for the upcoming week.

The CDC also discusses healthier celebrations and fundraisers to keep our students healthy. As the lead for our geography department in terms of the celebrations within our team, I have to admit I struggle in this area. My idea of a celebration is cake or donuts or both. Don’t judge me. I don’t like to cook, bake like a kindergartener (or worse), and it’s easier to pick up something already put together. The CDC recommends healthy snacks, vegetables, fruits, and other whole grain foods.

While I can’t get on board with all of these, I will agree that there are other ways to celebrate a day or person. Cards can still be a great method and recently our students created an online presentation to celebrate our principal for bosses day. Using a variety of celebration methods will lessen the temptations that might otherwise add to unhealthy habits during the school year.

Last, the Centers for Disease Control recommend physical activity as a daily activity. It’s also important to not use it as a behavior strategy, meaning not to punish yourself or the student by keeping them from this activity. As a teacher, I have found I often punish myself by waiting until the end of the day to do any physical activity.

Last year I began working out before school and while this required me to get up VERY early, I found myself less stressed throughout the day and having more energy. In the past I have “punished” my health by making excuses. I would often be too tired or my family would need me so I would skip a workout. This also increased my stress level and wasn’t a healthy choice myself as a teacher, mom, or wife.

So while it’s important for us to help our students be healthy while in our classrooms, it’s equally important for us to make healthy choices as well. As we begin a new school year, may we work on some new year resolutions as well. Goals are important. Our administrators might not appreciate us running out of our classrooms screaming from the stress of a new school year!

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