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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

I'm tired. There's too much going on outside of work, too much work inside of work. February is a much longer month this year. And there's another six weeks before spring break (mine is not a school district that has a February break). I'm reaching the tired that obliterates memory of antidotes.

So I'm going to brainstorm a list of what helps to prevent plunges into fatigue:

#1. Take a 10-minute walk. They say I'll feel the energetic benefits from a 10-minute walk for the following two hours.

#2. Blend frozen blueberries with almond milk, or even water. Always keep several bags of blueberries in freezer.

#3. Stop reading anything related to education for a week. Or cut down by 90 percent.

#4. Notice the moments in the day when I'm not tired. They do exist but when my overall state is tired, I miss all the other moments.

#5. Fantasize about the next school year. I find this energizing and revitalizing. There is a future beyond the immediate fatigue.

#6. Eat raw kale. I feel an almost caffeine-like rush of energy. Chop it up really small and add to salad or blueberry-smoothie. It also balances out the jellybean consumption that increases with tiredness.

#7. Work in 45-minute time blocks. While the timer is on, don't divert attention for anything -- no checking email, clipping cuticles, or organizing bookshelves. Forty-five minutes of intense focus (set the timer) and then a 15-minute break. Take a walk during the break. Right now. Take a walk. I'm going to take my own advice. Now.

#8. Listen to music, really loud (can be combined with walking). And sing along. Janis Joplin just did wonders for my energy level.

#9. Take ten slow, long, deep breaths. Inhale. Hold for the count of five. Exhale, slowly.

#10. Pet a furry creature. There's science behind this: Petting an animal decreases blood pressure and increases endorphins.

#11. Limit the intake of news of any kind, even turn off NPR; listen to music. And sing. Bob Marley is good, too.

#12. Sniff fresh mint. Or mint tea. Or mint-extract. The smell is supposed to wake up the brain. (It can't hurt.)

#13. Take a walk with a friend who does not work in education and talk about trivial matters or reminisce about wild college days.

#14. Give your eight-year-old boy permission to tell you bathroom jokes. It's not the jokes that are funny, it's the fact that you've given him permission and the way his body contorts into peels of laughter; his joy is infectious and laughter is all about deep breathing and so there's a science behind it, too. It helps.

#15. Look for other jobs. This either makes me really appreciate my job or it reminds me that there might be something else out there. Usually, however, I am happy to return to my work.

#16. Ask for support from those around you, especially if they are getting fed up with you being so tired. Declare your intentions and then beg them to remind you of this one: "I am never, ever going to write a book again! Even if I get all excited about some other project, remind me not to do it." Those others can also make you tea, or squeeze your shoulders (which are beginning to inch into your ears).

#17. Take naps. Sleep a little extra. Those eight hours are not to be messed with.

#18. Make lists like this, reminding myself of what helps when I'm really tired.

#19. If all else fails, watch your favorite tv show. (I do like Breaking Bad except for the fact that there's a distant connection to education which I try to ignore.)

#20. Ask others for advice and tips.

So, Edutopia Community, after six intense months of work and overwhelm, along with a full life outside of your job, what do you do to alleviate the tired? Please share!

Comments (13)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Michele Vogt-Schuller's picture
Michele Vogt-Schuller
Humanities Department Chair, Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy

1. Swim before work. Even if I sleep in, just ten minutes in the water does wonders and has a feeling of summer.
2. Have a great, off-topic conversation with a student.
3. Mix up the curriculum a bit!
4. Start making plans for exciting things to do next year, and then do one of them this year!

Amy T's picture
Amy T
High school math teacher in North Carolina

I teach math, so I find my escape in more right-brained areas like writing, reading fiction, painting, playing in my art journal, playing piano, or (as was previously suggested)listen to (LOUD)music and sing. I've also found that if I can just get in my car and drive with the music turned up, I can literally escape for a little whiie.

ECSENerd's picture
ECSENerd
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher and I love it

...especially when you and your students are tired. I was very tired after changing a student's wet pants twice yesterday, so I made a little rhyme. "We all need to go potty first, 'cause pee-pee pants are just the worst!" It's bathroom humor and we all laughed. I felt a little less tired and my student repeated it every time we needed to use the bathroom.

Marcia Lee, Solutions Without Drugs's picture
Marcia Lee, Solutions Without Drugs
Children's Movement Coach, Certified Teacher Trainer, Body-Brain Balancing

I use simple cross-lateral movements from many sources - yoga, tai chi, qi gong, energy medicine, super brain yoga - that literally switch on the brain in under a minute. I call them Children's Brain/Body Balancing. They help me refresh, focus, and feel great. They're easy, safe, and fun and work in the classroom for both students and teachers. I use them at home every day. You can see some of these movements on my website solutionswithoutdrugs.com or email me at solutions4kids@yahoo.com. I teach teachers on-site in pre-schools, charter schools, and public schools plus parent workshops.

Melanie Link Taylor's picture
Melanie Link Taylor
Educational Consultant/Author, Southern California

...do it for me. The jangly guitar from 'Hard Day's Night.' while driving home up the Cajon Pass.

stacy's picture

This time of year I often find myself struggling with the feelings of being burnt out. I used to think of professional development as joke or as a way to get out of class for a day. However I recently found five different characteristics of effective professional development that I thought I might share in hopes to encourage professional development and ultimately beat being a fatigue teacher.
1. Provide time - teachers should have the chance to meet with their colleagues once a week, uninterrupted. (Ok, wouldn't this be awesome?!)
2. Professional development should provide a variety of structures for teachers to work together in teams.
3. Professional development should provide a variety of activities for teachers to work on. The activities should start out easy, allowing teachers to feel comfortable with one another. As time progresses, activities should become more sophisticated.
4. There should be opportunities for teachers to use the ideas learned in professional development in their classroom.
5. Things learned during professional development opportunities should be implemented throughout the entire school year.

stacy's picture

This time of year I often find myself struggling with the feelings of being burnt out. I used to think of professional development as joke or as a way to get out of class for a day. However I recently found five different characteristics of effective professional development that I thought I might share in hopes to encourage professional development and ultimately beat being a fatigue teacher.
1. Provide time - teachers should have the chance to meet with their colleagues once a week, uninterrupted. (Ok, wouldn't this be awesome?!)
2. Professional development should provide a variety of structures for teachers to work together in teams.
3. Professional development should provide a variety of activities for teachers to work on. The activities should start out easy, allowing teachers to feel comfortable with one another. As time progresses, activities should become more sophisticated.
4. There should be opportunities for teachers to use the ideas learned in professional development in their classroom.
5. Things learned during professional development opportunities should be implemented throughout the entire school year.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator 2014

When I left home this morning, my 1st-and-2nd-grade-teacher husband was sound asleep, having succumbed to a virus that only got a foothold via a combination of exhaustion and stress. He'll sleep for a good 8 hours today, at least, and that's *exactly* what he needs to do (though the stress of being out today didn't help him rest last night!). Fatigue is the body's way of asking us to rest- mentally, physically, emotionally. Thanks for these great tips. (All except the kale, 'cause...really? :::shudder:::)

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Laura, I have to vehemently disagree... Kale is wonderful. As Elana mentioned, it's great in salads and smoothies/juices. I also like it sauteed. It's super-healthy, affordable, and abundant in U.S. supermarkets. ;-)

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator 2014

I'm sure it is- if one can get past the general "ick" factor. ;-)

Honestly though- I have a similar love affair with nuts, spinach, and fiddleheads (not together) and know that many of my colleagues at Antioch are committed citizens of the kale community. It takes all kinds to make a world...

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