So it's the season for back-to-school tips, and I'm going to jump in the conversation with my most recent adult learning...
Confession: I rarely ate breakfast this year, and powered through until lunch with very little sustenance. On top of that, I often found myself with a banging headache at 2pm because I hadn't had any water since the cup of coffee I drank in the morning, which doesn't count for obvious reasons. I did a little reading and found that there is now significant research that proves the obvious--that dehydration significantly diminishes cognitive functioning and quality of mood.
In preparing for a new school year, one of my top priorities is planning to eat breakfast and stay hydrated EVERY DAY. All the other planning, new strategies, assessment, parent outreach, and other good ideas will not yield much if I am not properly fueled when I teach. I have slacked in this regard too many times, and I'm just done with that.
Here's the new plan.
1. Start the day with a smoothie. This summer, I learned to make smoothies every morning, and they are delicious. I use frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or a combo), vanilla yogurt, coconut milk (Silk brand found in the milk section), honey, flax seeds, and occasionally almonds, fruit juice and/or kale. Blend with Ice. Drink in the car. My friend says if you add protein powder it helps keep energy even all morning. Making the smoothie takes very little time and has quickly attained the status of full-fledged habit for me. I simply would not want to begin the day without it.
2. Stay hydrated. My number one choice for hydration is water. Nothing works better, and it's pretty much free, yet somehow I don't prioritize filling up my water bottle in the morning or throughout the day. Sometimes I also forget to drink the water I do have. And these are the factors that make the difference between a hydrated teacher at 2pm and a banging headache.
Besides the gravity of my dead serious commitment to hydration this year, I plan to remind myself by using a cool tool. Here are my two choices, both borrowed from colleagues.
Reusable Plastic Cup. Several teachers at my school have begun using this kind of reusable plastic cup with built-in lid and straw. It's less work than opening and closing a normal water bottle and it's just kind of cool. My colleague says she sees it and it reminds her to drink water.
Hydration Backpack. This truly hard core gear was worn by a former colleague of mine who possesses a level of responsibility and organization that is unusual and truly admirable. She's a runner and found herself so dydrated in her first year of teaching that she started wearing this contraption during her teaching day so she could drink water without searching for the water bottle, or opening and closing it, or forgetting it altogether! No, she did not wear a bicycle helmit... but she did say the kids thought the hydration pack was cool :)
So I'll probably opt for the adult version of a sippy-cup... but will keep the hydration backpack in mind if that doesn't work out.
I'm confident that hydration will boost my energy and help me make the most of the rest of my efforts. Will you be hydrated this year when you put your teaching plans into action?
[image credits: (1) smoothierecipe.tv, (2) vat19.com, (3) walmart.com]