As with many things in life, our personal habits can have a positive or negative impact on ourselves, and, surprisingly, they can also create a ripple effect that impacts those around us. In the case of educators, they can be so busy going beyond the call of duty that they might unknowingly have developed habits that are zapping their energy, lowering--instead of maximizing--their productivity, and putting them at risk for negative long-term consequences.
In meeting with educators from all over the US, I repeatedly hear about themes that boil down to three habits that can be detrimental to them, their students, and their long-term productivity.
1. Skipping meals
Whether teachers are skipping breakfast to get to school bright and early or skipping lunch to tutor a student, if this is a reoccurring pattern during the school year, they could be setting themselves up for less productive days and serious long-term consequences.
Meal skipping can zap your energy and concentration, leading to irritability, and loss of full control of the class.
In a Women’s Health Magazine article, Maggie Moon, R.D., a nutritionist based in Los Angeles shared, "sugar is the fuel your body runs on, and if it's not circulating in the right amounts, every organ in your body is affected, you generally feel tired and unwell overall." Moon added, “Without a steady supply of nutrients, your intellectual and emotional functioning changes.”
To help keep your energy levels up and to better serve your students, take a moment to fuel up on nutritious food.
2. Using a “teacher” voice
Most students and teachers are acquainted with ‘the teacher voice:' the elevated, narrow-range, somewhat irritated-sounding voice educators use to try to counteract distance and noisiness in the classroom. Using that voice means teachers are at risk of developing vocal health problems, including laryngitis. Paradoxically, the 'teacher voice' can weaken communication.
According to the University of Iowa's National Center for Voice and Speech, 50 percent of all instructors suffer from a voice disorder at some time in their profession, contrasted with only about 5 percent of the overall population.
In a survey of 56 Dubuque (Iowa) public school teachers, researchers compared sick days due to voice or throat problems before and after using a sound system. Teachers using the classroom audio technology reported a 63% reduction in sick days taken per year.
Using a classroom audio system (also known as soundfield or classroom sound) can help. Because the system is doing the work of projecting the teacher's voice, he or she can speak in a normal tone of voice — or even whisper — and still be heard clearly, reducing voice strain while preserving speech clarity.
FrontRow microphones can overcome the hurdles of unamplified classrooms. Our audio technology makes a significant impact on the attentiveness and achievement of hundreds of thousands of students every day.
To get your voice back to health and your students more attentive than ever leverage the power of classroom voice amplification.
3. Letting students "get their goat"
Whether a group of students are fidget-spinning their way to an ‘F’ or loudly banging their Chromebook keys to the beat of ‘Despacito,’ they may be consciously or unconsciously trying to get their teacher's goat—robbing them of their peace and getting them agitated, which in turn sends the rest of the class into unrest.
The more stressed someone is, the easier it is to get his or her goat, so it is important to do little things throughout the day to bring calm and peace. Some of the ways teachers may want to counteract potential student-induced tension, is by practicing brief, 5-minute (or less!) techniques to relax throughout the day. Finding time to relax may seem unachievable, but some of these tips from Greatist.com may just do the trick:
- Do: Use Creative Visualization: The doorbell rings. It’s Ryan Gosling (or Elizabeth Banks), and he/she wants to know if you’ll marry him/her. “Yes!” you shout and then—sorry, time’s up. These little daydreams, also known as “creative visualization,” involve thinking of something that makes us feel happy. It’s an instant mood boost on hectic days when you’re feeling tense.
- Do: Try Progressive Relaxation: Just squeeze, release, and repeat. Progressive relaxation involves tensing the muscles in one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm.
- Do: Snack on Chocolate: Just a square (about 1.4 ounces) of the sweet stuff can calm your nerves. Dark chocolate regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes metabolism.
- Do: Drip Cold Water on Your Wrists: Pass on the perfume and go with water. When stress hits, head for the bathroom and drop some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. There are major arteries right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body.
- Do: Listen to your favorite song: Bruno Mars, Adele, or Tony Bennet, sometimes belting out the lyrics to a favorite tune makes everything seem all right. If you’re in a public place, just listening to music can be a quick fix for a bad mood. Classical music can be especially relaxing.
Oftentimes, teaching can be as rewarding as it is challenging; hopefully, unlearning these three habits and taking advantage of the tips above lead to easier days in and outside the classroom. Chocolate anyone?
- What Effects Does Skipping Meals Have on the Body?
- What Happens to Your Body When You Skip a Meal?
- The Link Between Anger and High Stress Levels
- 40 Tips to Relax in 5 Minutes of Less