Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Keep Warm in the Classroom this Winter

The long winter months can settle into your bones, and seep into your skin. The biting winds, blowing snow, ice covered playground can bring a chill to more than just your nose. It can make you feel less than cheerful. The warmth that usually works its way into your heart may be harder to find when all you want to do is curl up in your cozy bed, with a book and a hot beverage. However, no matter what you feel like you still have a job to do.

Unlike other professions, you cannot hide away in your office or cubicle. Instead you are surrounded all day by small or large students begging for your positive attention. They do not care if you are in a slump, or feeling the winter cold blues. They want you to be present, not just there. So, I have a few suggestions to help you keep warm in your classroom when Old Man Winter has curled your toes in agony.
Bracelets Sisters reminding us to be kind even if we are faced with the cold.
1. SMILE! Yes that is right. Smile, when you feel bad, down, tired, groggy, and impatient smile really wide and look right at a student. Keep that smile on your face even if it is forced until you see that smile being reciprocated. Then, you will be smiling for real. It is true, and research shows that if you smile your face not only feels the changes, but your brain does too.

2. CELEBRATE! Create time to celebrate hard work and success, no matter how small. Create a learning celebration, plan a pajama party, enjoy a character building video with your students complete with popcorn. I know it seems there are not enough minutes in the day, but if you think about your past experiences you may not remember a single lesson. However, if you think of your favorite teachers you probably recall how they made you feel or how their behavior helped you to become who you are today. So, allow time for the simple pleasures because those are also the important things in life.
Celebrating Reading with Egyptian Day.
3. MOVE! Instead of standing or sitting in one spot,  have the students join you in some yoga, or a task requiring movement. To teach vivid verbs, have them cross the room doing something (besides walking). Model it by dancing wildly as you cross the room. Or for math, do jumping jacks  or push up to reach the answer of a simple problem.  3 +5= 8, but it is a lot more fun if you doing 8 jumping jacks or 8 pushups. Let them work where they are comfortable, stand or walk around, but do not force them to stay at their seats.

Just let him move!
4. MUSIC! Play music in the background. You can choose something upbeat or some classical music that gets your brain recharged and focused. Plus, you can use it to manage the classroom. Explain to them that they cannot talk louder than the music. If they are louder than the music their voices are not at the appropriate level. You can also tie step 3 into this one and dance to how the music makes you feel as a class.

Read like an Egyptian
5. LOVE! Above all else love your students! The kids all come from different backgrounds, and lives. Some know the meaning of this powerful word, while others ache for it. Think about what it means to feel loved and be the love they deserve. When it is tough and you do not feel like giving it, close your eyes and think of someone you love very much. Then picture the teacher you would want for them to spend their day with. Let them share their ideas, their thoughts, fears, sorrows, and joys. You will find if you allow them into your heart you will be filled with joy beyond compare.  Share your heart and you will receive more than just a community of hard workers, but also a classroom culture of love and respect.

How can you not LOVE this little face, the excitement and the power of discovery?!?
So, when the days become difficult or recess duty sets your teeth to chattering, look around and find something to spread warmth. You are not the only one who feels the cold of a frozen teacher. RECHARGE, WARM, and REJUVENATE as you EDUCATE!