What Are You Waiting For?

In some capacity, everyone is waiting for an area of their life to change.

As educators, we always want to improve in many sectors, but we often do not feel in the driver’s seat of teaching due to ever changing curriculum, standards, assessments, and more. These factors beyond the control of teachers lead them to feel stuck in a conundrum while thinking, “Where do I even begin when each day something else is the new best practice?”

So, we wait for someone to give us the magic professional development and recipe for success. With an expert’s opinion, we can then be sure that what we are doing is correct, right?

Wait…not so fast.

I am a words and book junkie. I value the art of connecting on a global scale and learning from experts each day. But, I also know that we as educators are professionals. We are good at what we do. We love our kids, and we work hard to do what is best for them each day. We build upon our practice consistently.

So, let us stop underestimating ourselves. Let’s stop waiting. Let us begin to trust who we are and our innate abilities.

Whatever that goal is that you have in mind, just go for it.

What do you want at your school?

Do you want to try a paperless classroom? Try it. Do you want to start makerspaces at your school? Do it.

Be your personal advocate and never look back.

We cannot wait on others. Each time we halt, we become a roadblock to each other and to the students we serve.

Be bold enough to try and be relentless enough to try it again and again.

The results will not always be picture perfect, but you can never improve if you are not courageous enough to take the first step.

 

Go forth and be awesome,

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Self-Care in the Digital Age

We are surrounded, and drowning, under a sea of devices to make our lives more efficient.

But, what people do not talk about is the lasting effects that excessive usage of technology can have on a person without proactive and swift decisions to have a healthy mind and body, from the inside-out. ISTE’s standards also recognize the how overuse of tech can impact one’s mental, physical, and emotional health and one’s digital identity.

Recently, I have been reading “Sleep Smarter” by Shawn Stevenson, and it is a game-changer. Great sleep is more than just aiming for 8 hours; What you do during the day will directly impact your sleep or lack thereof.

In the digital world that we live in, we must actively be leading kids and ourselves to practice self-care.

I have been doing research on how extensive use of digital screens causes eye fatigue and strain while interfering with your sleep and circadian rhythms. Only decreasing the brightness of your screen will not solve the problem. Blue and white light work together to cause interferences with your brain that can directly affect your well-being during the day, and your sleep at night.

Here are some tips to live by:

Blue Light

Download a “Blue Light” app or extension on your phone, computer, and tablet to reduce eye fatigue and strain; Search “blue light” in either your Google Play or Apple store to find results. But not all apps are equal- try them out and see what gives you the most positive results. I love “BlueLight Filter” from Android and “Screen Shader” for your Chromebook or computer.

After downloading, you can click the icon on your toolbar and either mask a day or nightshade depending on the time of day. The screen will turn a different color with a mask of pink/salmon (or other colors of your choice). If you take a screenshot, your screenshot will also have the colored mask for some apps. You can also temporarily turn off the shade function for zero interference- I do this easily on “Screen Shader” with just one click.

Body Mechanics

  • Position keyboard directly in front of your body.
  • Adjust keyboard and height, so shoulders are relaxed, and elbows are slightly open.
  • Keep neck and jaw in a neutral and relaxed position.
  • Adjust the screen rather than adjusting your neck as you work.
  • Look away from your screen periodically and get up and move!
  • Push your body to the back part of your chair and adjust the height of the chair (if applicable).
  • Aim to be one arm’s length away from your screen.
  • Stretch and flex hands, fingers, and wrists throughout the day.

Go Outside

Take a walk and spend more time outside. A quick 15-minute walk can do wonders for your health paired with the joy that sunlight can bring to your brain. Getting proper daylight during the day also helps you sleep better at night. If the weather hinders you from being outside, keep the blinds open if you have windows.

Sleep

We continue to work harder and sleep less, which equates to feeling run down and making more mistakes throughout the work and school day. Do your best to put devices away 90 minutes before bed time. If you cannot do this, use one of the “Blue Light” extensions during your time on the device to limit interference with circadian sleep rhythms.

 

During the past few weeks of staying true to these tips, I have noticed gains in my posture, sleep patterns, and overall well-being during the day. I encourage you to practice self-care and to give a few of these tips a try as well. Once you try it and see results- teach your students, colleagues, and beyond! Although we love technology, we have to train ourselves to love our bodies and health even more!

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Build a Collaborative Culture by Asking for Help

The title of this post is incredibly misleading; There is much more that goes into building a collaborative culture than simply asking for help. But, I must admit that asking for help is a meaningful start. Although I strive to serve others in all I do, I also have come to understand that we must be willing to ask for help first before others feel comfortable reaching out to us.

Many of us hear metaphors that include:

– Life is a “give and take.”
– “You give before you get.”
– “You must sow the seed before you reap the harvest.”

Although these sayings have meaningful intentions, after years of hearing “always give first,” you begin to feel guilty when asking for even the tiniest assistance. Furthermore, sometimes we even feel weak or inferior if we ask for help; As if one person can somehow know all of the answers to life. We cannot do it alone; We need each other.

I have found that by asking others for genuine guidance, you start to heighten the comfort level between you and your peers. Giving to others can include providing others with resources, suggestions, time, effort, and your heart. It can even be established by asking a question to gather feedback, like, “What would you do in this circumstance?” or “I see that you are really successful with _________, do you have any tips that you could share?”

By asking for help, you can also show interest in another person. In addition, you can build a culture where people conclude that “If he/she feels comfortable asking for help, I am going to feel at ease asking him/her for help next time.”

Everyone deserves to feel heard and it all begins with us.

It may sound over-sentimental, but try asking a colleague a question that you may not usually talk to, or pick their brain for essential insight that could improve your teaching practice. You will be astonished to see how new friendships can build and how your school culture may launch to the next level with the beginnings of one small act.

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