ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Be a Well-Balanced Teacher: Tips for the New School Year

Post submitted by Mike Anderson, author of the forthcoming book The Well-Balanced Teacher: How to Work Smarter and Stay Sane Inside the Classroom and Out, and guest on this month's Whole Child Podcast

The school year is about to start! It's an exciting time of year, but it's also pretty hectic. There's the physical space to set up, lessons and units to prepare, students and families to get to know, and meetings to attend. All too often, we teachers find ourselves swamped with work right at the beginning of the year, and in a desperate attempt to start the year positively, we immediately move into overdrive, trying to do too much in too little time.

Before we know it, it's the middle of the year, we're still not caught up (we never really do, right?), and we've fallen into unhealthy patterns as we've tried to meet the impossible demands of our profession. I remember one year I got into the habit of stopping at Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's on the way to school every morning as I tried to get to school quickly to get extra work done. Six months and 25 pounds later, I had a hard habit to break!

We will all develop habits and patterns of behavior as a new school year begins. If we're proactive and thoughtful, we can get ourselves "stuck" in patterns of healthy behavior before bad habits emerge. Here are a few to consider:

  • Make exercise a part of your getting-to-school routine in the morning. Bring your school clothes to the gym or the pool, work out, and then shower and head right to school.
  • Plan healthy snacks to eat at school every day. Make Sunday evening your time to prepare and pack good snacks for the week.
  • Pick one day a week to connect with positive colleagues. Maybe it's Wednesday mornings for breakfast at a local diner. It could be Friday afternoon for happy hour. It might be Tuesday mornings at school for a fun book group. Set something up, invite positive colleagues, and then stick to it!
  • Pick a day a week to do some journaling. A few minutes to write down reflections from the week can help you detect patterns and trends in your students and your teaching that can help improve your practice.

What are some other ideas you have? What are some healthy patterns you'd like to establish this year? What will those habits look like? Share your ideas!

Comments (7)

Ms. Merett

August 19, 2010

Great ideas for healthy patterns. I especially like the one about carrying my clothes to the gym for a morning workout. I think I can do that!!

Be a Well-Balanced Teacher: Tips for the New Schoo

August 24, 2010

George Shirey

August 24, 2010

Mike, great post.  I think it’d be wise to try to incorporate all three of these.  Thanks for sharing.

Cindy Kruse

August 29, 2010

Thanks for these great ideas Mike!  I tried working out before school three times a week last year and can honestly say I had a sense of well-being on those days in particular.  However, somehow those days became less and less throughout the school year.  I am planning to find someone to partner with this year to hold me accountable.

Mike Anderson

August 30, 2010

Great to hear some feedback, Cindy, George, and Ms. Merett. I hope you all have a great start to the year!

Jeannie Chiasson

September 11, 2010

Great ideas. At our school we’re starting monthly social events to help keep things positive, and the occasional potluck at school as well. It’s very easy to get bogged down as a teacher because we care so much about our students. It’s great to get a reminder to care about ourselves as well so that we can be better teachers.

Mike Anderson

September 22, 2010

Jeannie…regular social gatherings are such a great way for colleagues to stay connected. It’s so easy to work three doors down from someone and hardly ever talk to them!

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