Back To School and Staying Healthy


     Wasn’t it great being healthy all summer? Ever wonder why that is? Well it’s time for back-to-school and I have some thoughts on STAYING HEALTHY, especially if you are a beginning teacher.  Classrooms are breeding grounds for germs. Here are some tips for avoiding the dreaded “bug”.germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands

  • I wasn’t too sure about getting a Flu Shot until the year I tried it and didn’t get sick! Now I get both “kinds” each year.
  • I take a multi-vitamin. It’s important to read the labels. There’s a zillion kinds out there. So take an age-specific one. I like Centrum Silver or One-A-Day for the older woman because I really do feel they help me feel better. I’ve added Gingko Biloba to help me stay focused too. Someone told me that it’s the only herb that the Alzheimer’s Association recommends. This too, is because I’m getting older and have more often asked myself why I went into this room! Some friends also swear by B12 and vitamin C during the winter months.
  • I use the spray disinfectant that our school gives us, on all my tables in the classroom everyday before I go home, and if my students are extra sneezy and coughing I use Lysol. I also wipe the doorknobs, my telephone, and the computer keyboards.
  • I use my own Kleenex box that I keep at the back of my desk, out of reach of students. It’s that anti-viral kind that they came out with.
  • I have Kleenex boxes in all 4 corners of the classroom, and ask students to please bring a box in along with their school supplies at the beginning of the school year.
  • It’s important to get the kids on board. So educate them.
  • The minute one child is caught sneezing or coughing, I take that opportunity to STOP everything and teach them all how to sneeze and cough in their elbow. We practice together, and then I positively reinforce that behavior when I see it being done with a candy Smartee. I know some people are against candy, but this is a tiny-quick melting treat that really motivates the behavior I want.
  • I tell them how important it is to wash their hands, that germs are on them and that if they don’t wash they can become sick. germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands
  • To demonstrate this I put baby powder on my hands and then I go around and touch theirs. We go into our huge supply closet. I turn on my battery-operated black light bar which they think is “way cool”, then I turn off the lights. I tell them to look at all of the germs that are on their hands! The talcum powder just glows! My point is made! Seeing is believing.
  • You also have to SHOW them how to properly wash their hands. Don’t take for granted that parents do this.
  • Also CHECK children as they come out of the bathroom, don’t just ask them if they’ve washed. If their hands aren’t damp you know they didn’t wash. My Y5’s are always amazed that I know they are “lying”  when I say “ I don’t think so, now get back in there and drown those germs!”
  • I tell them to sing the ABC song while they wash. I read somewhere, that one chorus is sufficient to kill all the germs.
  • Our school installed antiseptic gel dispensers in every room when they read the studies that showed they helped cut illness as much as 50%  I think it was a school nurse that launched this campaign, back when a school could afford one.
  • I have my students use them after they use the bathrooms even though I make sure that they have washed their hands. I also have them use them when I see them picking their nose. What is it with that “favorite” habit of every child I’ve ever had! YUK! We also use the “magic soap” before we go to the cafeteria and before we eat our snack.
  • If you make sure your students are germ-free you stand a better chance of staying well. I love the foam magic soap that Bath and Body sells. I keep that in my pocket for “special” times and for me to use through out the day. Gold Bond has come out with a cream that’s germ killing which I also love because sometimes all the “alcohol” in the other stuff can dry out your hands.
  • Use your own crayons, scissors, pencils etc. This was a hard habit for me to break as I was always sitting down with my students either helping them one-on-one or working with a group. Their supplies were handy and I’d have to get up to get mine. Opt to wear an apron to not only keep your clothes clean, but keep supplies in your pockets.
  • This next one is hard too, but probably the most important" DON’T". Try not to touch your face at all, especially your eyes, nose or mouth and especially if you haven’t washed your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water. You need to stay hydrated for a variety of reasons. I have a little fridge in my classroom that I keep the children’s’ snacks in as well as my lunch and lots of bottled water. I try and make sure I drink at least 2 bottles each day. Some say you should have 3. On hot days that’s no problem. Taking the time to take a few sips is the problem. I try to keep my students hydrated too by including drink AND potty breaks.
  • During the beginning of the school year and in June when it’s hot in Michigan I buy a case of the mini water bottles for my students and let them keep them at their desk. I write their name on the bottom with a permanent marker. They enjoy re-filling them at the water fountain and they think it’s cool to have a water bottle at their desk. It’s also a great fine motor skill to screw and unscrew the caps so we don’t have spilled messes.
  • sick_kids, germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing handsI educate my parents via newsletters to keep their children home when they are sick. That although school is important, this is Y5’s and they are not going to miss anything that I can’t catch them up on. If they’d like to come in and pick up a packet of lessons that we are doing that day,  that is just fine with me. Or if they give me a call, I can send it home with an older sibling.
  • I’m also very aware of who is looking pale, and feeling hot, and don’t hesitate to send them to the office to get their temperature taken. My gut feelings are 90% correct and that sick child is then sent home.
  • I don’t know about you, but I can’t function without 8 hours of sleep. To stay healthy you need your rest. I also send a note home to parents that their child needs at least 8 if not 10.
  • It was very hard for me to leave my room, and not take anything home. Even when I was an aide I’d bring a bag of “stuff” home to do. I remember Mr. W saying: “What are you doing Diane? All I have in my hands are my car keys!” For your health’s sake you have to take your teacher hat off and leave it at school.  and put your mom, wife, or simply your you hat on and go home and RELAX. You need down time to de-stress so that you can recharge for tomorrow.
  • I have invested in a nice selection of soothing music that peels me off the ceiling and quiets my jangled nerves and I start playing it right away in the car. Whether it’s a nice hot bubble bath, or a walk in the crisp fall air crunching leaves an breathing in fresh air you owe it to yourself to rejuvenate your mind and body. And you will be healthier and happier for it.
  • When you get home change your clothes even if it was casual Friday and you got to wear jeans to school. Who knows what little germies took a ride home on your sweater. Then go wash your hands up to your elbows like the surgeons do, and sing the alphabet song yourself.  Washing your hands under hot water also opens up those little capillaries. More oxygen gets into your bloodstream, and on to your brain and that helps eliminate your aching head too!
  • Before you go to bed is not the time to haul out Mailbox Magazine, Idiot Books for computers or anything else that will get you revved up and wide awake. Put on a CD of waves crashing against the shore, spritz some lavender on your pillow, put a hot or cold compress on your eyes, do something that will help you further relax and fall asleep. I try to get ready for bed a ½ hour before I need to fall asleep because I’m usually wired.
  • Lay your things out for the morning so that you can remain stress-free. Choosing my outfit and accessories for the next day was a nice “down-time” thing for me to do too. I think I sleep better too knowing that I’m organized.
  • If you do get sick, STAY home. Try and remember that although your students love you and will probably miss you, they will survive without you.
  • Make sure that you have a great sub-folder already in place especially if you are caught off guard and can’t even function or are in an accident. You can have peace of mind knowing that there is a lesson in there that anyone can teach + all the incidentals for a day with your little ones.
  • Check out my substitute tips by clicking on the link.
  • And if you don’t…I’m here to rescue you. Grab something off the site and FAX it to your school and your sub can run with it. Or call a teacher friend and have them do it for you. germs, how to stay healthy, healthy teachers, keeping students healthy, washing hands
  • When I’m sick I swear by a cup of hot chamomile tea that I drop an Airborne™ tablet in. I don’t care if some people think that product is a placebo or not. When I have a cold it now only lasts about 2-3 days instead of lingering for 7-10. My favorite flavor is apple cider. This product was developed by a 2nd grade teacher and that’s good enough for me.
  • Well that’s it for “Doctor Diane’s” tips.
  • I hope you have a super healthy year! I wish you all the best!
  • Is there something that works for you? Feel free to comment.




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