Ben Kissam is a writer, standup comedian, coach, and former middle school teacher. His blog, coachk.co, offers satirical advice for self-improvement and achievement.
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Pretend you have a checking account with $100 in it. (Since you're a teacher, you just might not have to pretend!) Over a 20-day period, imagine that you withdraw $5 from the account and hand the money to someone else. On day 21, you go to make your daily withdrawal. What happens? Your card is declined due to insufficient funds.
Teacher burnout is like a bank account. You give, give, give to your students. But if you give too much, you wind up feeling overdrawn. If you develop a solid morning routine before school, you'll feel like you made a deposit before going to work. Use these tips to start planning your new routine.
Teaching is a tiring job, and you probably have a lot of mornings where you want to hit the snooze button as soon as your alarm sounds. But instead of lapsing back into your old routine, think about the benefits of waking up early.
Researcher Dr. Joerg Huber of Roehampton University in London observed that early risers are happier, healthier, and even slimmer. Who doesn't want some of that? Investing in yourself by getting up early will pay dividends in your health, career, and personal well-being.
The best morning routine for teachers will embody these three adjectives: slow, selfish, and fun. Being slow doesn't mean being sluggish. It means being present with the habits you've selected, and that your morning doesn't feel rushed. Being selfish means choosing not to feel guilty about not doing school work before school. Having fun implies that you're selecting enjoyable habits that make you want to get up early.
Further reading: How to Achieve Work-Life Balance As a Teacher
Make your morning routine about you, your needs, and your goals. Even if spending time with yourself feels like you're doing nothing, don't let the temptation to get ahead with lesson planning creep in.
To maximize your new routine, pick a few habits to start off the day that will leave you feeling refreshed.
Begin the morning with a cup of coffee and a good book. Pick a book you want to read instead of required reading for school. Setting a goal for how many books you'll read before school this year and making a challenge for yourself on Goodreads can be a powerful motivator.
Quiet activities like writing in a journal or meditating are also good ways to start your morning. A quick bullet journal session can give you clarity for the day ahead, and meditation has been proven to boost function in several areas of the brain. A simple mindfulness breathing technique like box breathing can also improve your focus and help you relax.
If getting to the gym after work is tough, exercise during your morning routine. Morning workouts boost your mood, burn extra fat, and make it easier to cut down on unnecessary calories. This will also give you the momentum and energy you need to teach for the day.
At the beginning, waking up bright and early may have you scratching your head and wondering if this was a good idea. But as we've all heard, forming a new habit takes at least 21 days.
My advice: Start tomorrow, even if it's the middle of a week. Stick to your new morning routine for the next 15 school days so your body can get used to waking up early. If you still haven't adjusted after a few weeks, you may want to take another look at your evening routine. When are you going to sleep? Could you be getting poor shut-eye because you're using technology before bed?
You don't have to save the world before sunrise to have an effective morning routine before school. The best morning routine is one you can follow, one you enjoy, and one that contributes to your well-being. This is your time to fight off burnout, invest in yourself, and enhance your well-being.
Further reading: Make Your Classroom Morning Routine More Productive
So what are you waiting for? Create a morning routine that's so simple and effective, even a teacher can do it.