Friday, September 7, 2012

Back in the Groove

It's September, so I'm back at my computer with the old to-do list posted in front of me. How is my desk already this messy on the fourth day of school?

Like most teachers, it's a little bit of a struggle to get back in the saddle after a couple months of vacation. This year, as an added bonus, I'm seven months pregnant, so everything I do seems to take just a tiny bit more effort than normal. Teaching requires physical endurance - I always forget how much energy I need to "perform" all day long. I always sound like a croaking, gasping frog the first few days until my voice and breath readjust to the routine.

Here are my tips for getting back in the groove after summer vacation:

* Don't wait until the night before school starts to re-do your routine. I find it a lot less stressful to ease into an earlier bedtime/wake-up schedule. If I've gotten up at 6:30 AM the last few days, I'm sleepier at a more "normal" time, and the shock of 5:15 AM is easier to handle when the first day does roll around.

* Pack some protein in your lunch. I'll admit that during summer vacation, I took a nap every day after lunch. It was wonderful. Now, back at school, 1:00 PM rolls around and I still have three periods to teach, with no nap in sight. I've found I feel noticeably different in the afternoon if I eat protein for lunch. I'm a big fan of cottage cheese or greek yogurt, but there are all kinds of high protein things that help prevent 7th period crashes.

* Squeeze in exercise after school. This is sooo hard for me right now, as all I really want to do is go home and sit (or rather sleep) on the couch, but thirty minutes of cardio gives me a time to reflect on the day, obsess over silly details, and then turn off my "school brain" for the rest of the evening. The exercise also gives me enough energy to make dinner!

* Turn off your electronics two or three hours before bed. Studies suggest that the blue light emitted by computer screens suppress your body's secretion of melatonin, which means staring at a screen may prevent you from feeling sleepy. Make yourself step away from the computer, TV, etc., at a reasonable hour, and do something crazy, like read a (paper) book to help you relax.

What are your tips for surviving (and thriving) during the first week back at school?

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