We all know teaching is a rewarding but stressful profession. Sometimes the stress can get the better of us and our routine can slip. Before we know it we are waking up late and rushing through your day. You’ve probably put a lot of thought and planning into the routine you use with your students but have neglected your own, before school, routine. It’s time to put yourself first for a change. Let this post be a reminder to you that it’s okay to put yourself first when you are in the business of helping others–especially our youth. Start with your morning routine. The importance of a good morning cannot be understated. It will set the tone for you to power, create, and invest through the rest of your day.
Your morning routine is unique to you and should be structured based on your own unique needs. However, there are a few essential elements that make up all…
Regular Wake Up Time: Set a regular wake up time and stick to it. When you wake up at the same time each day you feel more rested and getting up early is easier. In fact, you might find yourself automatically waking up even when you don’t have an alarm set (annoying on a school break!) Waking up at a regular time starts the night before. To have a regular wake up time you also need to have a regular bedtime and get enough sleep so that waking up isn’t too terribly painful.
Eat Breakfast: I’m sure you’ve heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We aren’t talking eggs and pancakes here; just a quick protein bar, yogurt, or boiled egg can do wonders for your morning. Avoid high sugar items and choose higher protein foods. This also starts the night before. Plan and prep ahead what you are going to eat for breakfast that week so you can grab it quickly.
Physical Activity: For many people going to the gym in the morning works wonders. It really is the best time of the day to get your workout in. It gets your heart pumping and gives you energy the rest of the day. However, hitting the gym before work doesn’t work for everyone. Even some stretching, a walk around the block, or a few minutes of yoga have a similar effect if a full-on workout isn’t possible.
Feed your mind: Another crucial part of your morning routine is to do something that gets you into a positive mindset for the day. Try to spend at least 10 minutes alone doing something that makes you feel at peace such as journaling, meditation, or reading a good book. You’ll be amazed at what a difference those few minutes of solitude in the morning can make.
Make Your Commute Uplifting: Whether your commute is five minutes or an hour, your drive into work is a good time to learn something new or set the tone for the day. Just as we pay attention to what we consume for breakfast it’s important to pay attention to the media we consume on the way to work. Listen to an uplifting book, podcast, or playlist rather than just whatever happens to come on the radio.
Plan Out Your Routine: Write down in five to ten-minute increments the structure of your current and ideal morning routines. Then add a few extra minutes overall to deal with anything unexpected.
Prepare the Night Before: Lay out your clothes, make sure you have something to eat, set out anything you need to take with you to school that day. This makes those inevitable bumps in your morning easier to deal with.
Beware of Decision Fatigue: Teachers make thousands of decisions every day. The most successful people cut down on the number of decisions they have to make where possible. Simplify wardrobe or food choices (perhaps you could wear the same thing each Monday, or have the same two things for breakfast, every other day.) A.J. Juliani of Medium describes decision fatigue as “lack of productivity caused by a growing amount of choices that we make each and every day” and states that “The act of eliminating decisions and choices does not start in the morning of your day. It starts way beforehand. If you wake up and have to decide what to eat, whether or not you are going to exercise, what you might read, and what tasks you may complete — well, you’ll be well on your way to having an unproductive day as a teacher.”
Make Small Changes: Building a routine takes time. Make one small change at a time. Try implementing one change each week. Start with waking up early enough to accomplish all you have planned.
A productive morning routine is a simple idea that has a big impact on you and your students. Try implementing positive changes to your morning routine and see where they take you.
By: Amy Curletto
Amy has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.