new teachers & physical health ; Teaching in an elementary classroom can be both exhilarating and exhausting, and new K-8 teachers should learn early on the importance of taking good care of themselves throughout the school year.
By developing a routine that includes eating right, exercise, enough sleep, and the pursuit of personal interests in addition to professional development, new teachers can ensure that they have the energy and the excitement necessary to succeed in this rewarding, but demanding, career.
Maintaining Physical Health
One thing new teachers are often surprised by is how quickly they get sick after starting in a new teaching position. Being around children all day, just the near proximity to so many new people, brings exposure to all sorts of new germs, and for many it is inevitable that they contract one or more illnesses over the course of their first few years of teaching.
With their unpredictable and fragmented schedule, teachers need adequate daily nutrition and exercise. Build time into the day for brief sit-down meals at breakfast and lunch, and keep fruit, cut vegetables, nuts or popcorn available for snacking. Partner with another teacher for a walk at lunch, hold an exercise class after school, or make physical activity a priority on the weekends. Improved nutrition and exercise habits make sleep more refreshing, too, which strengthens the immune system and overall health.
Maintaining Mental Health
New teachers may be overwhelmed with numerous problems to solve, practical things to do and remember, and all the unfamiliar classroom experiences to which they must adapt and respond. Feeling frazzled, forgetful, short-tempered, or depressed may all indicate a need to address mental health as well as physical health. Maintain a sense of humor and focus on the positive things that have been accomplished each day, rather than on what still needs to be done.
Veteran teachers are often more than willing to share their expertise and materials. Seek the advice of a mentor teacher when needed, share materials and instructional ideas, and make a point of becoming involved in the larger school community. The collaborative atmosphere will promote positive feelings and a sense of cooperation that can ease the stress of a busy teaching day.
Maintaining a Balanced Lifestyle as a New Teacher
Teaching is a job that can keep a new professional busy twenty-four hours a day. It is essential that new teachers realize that they cannot and don’t have to do everything in their first year. Prioritize what is most important for this year’s class and keep a notebook with ideas for the coming year. Brainstorm solutions to the most pressing problems with colleagues and focus on one or two areas for professional development.