How Can Teachers Create a Culture of Health at School? It Starts With You.
EduNinja Whole Child Approach to a Healthier Classroom: Empowering Teachers to Lead From Within
We all know it's important for students to feel healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged in school. The real question is: Are teachers taking the time to follow their own guidelines and advice? Educators are known for working endlessly at school and often times are sacrificing weekends and nights to get those last essays graded, or next science projects planned. Often teachers are the ones who need to be reminded to stop, check in, and see if they are truly modeling these healthy behaviors we want our students to emulate.
1. Create a Personal Wellness Plan -
It’s important to have a strong purpose, create a clear vision, and plan for obstacles on this journey of achieving health and wellness goals. Noticing and celebrating micro gains fuels our positivity as we quickly learn where to make refinements while building healthy habits of mindfulness, nutrition, physical activity, and rejuvenation.
2. Be Mindful of Nutrition and Healthy Habits -
All aspects of health and wellness are interconnected. When you listen to your body, get enough rest and are fully tuned into the present moment, you are able to make better, more disciplined decisions about what you buy at the grocery store, keep in your kitchen and the quantity and quality of food you put into your body. You might even start noticing patterns in your eating habits and plan for pitfalls and ways to get back on track.
3. Learn the Importance of Teaching Mindfulness -
What is it exactly and why should we teach it in schools? Mindfulness is nonjudgmental awareness by intentionally focusing on present moment. It is not a religion and is scientifically proven to decrease stress and anxiety, increase attention, improve interpersonal relationships, and strengthen compassion.
Schools are typically a place of excitement and challenge but sometimes they can be a place of stress and anxiety for students and teachers. Teachers get a unique opportunity to model, practice, and provide students stress management tools, emotion regulation, and interpersonal skills.
According to the Mindful Schools Program, teachers who practice mindfulness on a regular basis, also reported reduced stress, greater efficacy in teaching, and more emotionally supportive classrooms.
4. Incorporate and See the Benefits of Physical Activity Before School -
Working out before school helps enhance metabolism; therefore, burning more calories throughout the day. That morning burst also enhances mood by releasing endorphins. You are cultivating consistency, creating time after school for other priorities, and improving physical and mental energy. Morning movement takes advantage of naturally circulating hormones as they're peaking to build muscle, rather than later in the day when they're lower. Try committing to working out 2-3 mornings a week. These smaller workouts sprinkled throughout the day may be easier to commit to and everyone in the community wins from your increased energy, elevated mood, and increased focus. So get your metabolism moving to feel energized and focused for school.
5. Lead or Participate in Lunch Clubs For Students and Staff -
Lunch clubs are a great way for teachers to connect and inspire students and staff to keep moving throughout the day. By leading or participating in a lunch club you’ll feel better and help others feel better too. Click on the EduNinja Educational Services and Events Calendar tab and join us for the next EduNinja Teacher Lunch and Learn session, EduNinja Fit Club, or EduNinja Educational speaking session. Learn how to incorporate kinesthetic lessons into the classroom and get a great workout in at the same time.
Would you like me to visit your school to lead professional development for your staff and/or students teaching them kinesthetic lessons, and health and wellness tools? Please e-mail or subscribe to the EduNinja Newsletter for whole child concepts, kinesthetic lessons, educational health and wellness ideas and opportunities to participate in classes.
6. Encourage Teacher Led Workouts -
Why not start your own after school workout group to support each other and encourage friends to be consistent in meeting their personal wellness goals? Your school has plenty of equipment, and you could always invite students families to join the fun.
7. Use Kinesthetic Lessons and Brain Breaks to Increase Student Engagement, Behavior, Focus, and Classroom Achievement -
John J. Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, boasts the benefits of exercise and improved brain performance. He describes how brain chemicals released during exercise, including serotonin and dopamine, help create an alert brain ready to learn. Many researchers believe that exercise is beneficial in moderating hormonal fluctuations, ADHD, stress, anxiety and mood and in improving academic achievement. These benefits can easily be seen when students are moving and learning in your classroom.
According to the American Heart Association students perform better academically, have better attendance, and behave better in class after physical activity. Teachers easily know these benefits, but are teachers joining the movement yet? It's a great way to model healthy movement in the classroom and feel better too. Educators have some great tools such as Go Noodle that incorporate mindfulness and physical activities throughout the school day, but why not expand the idea of movement for learners?
8. Subscribe to the EduNinja™ 30 Day Challenge at eduninja.net to participate in 30 fun filled days of exercise while learning more about kinesthetic lessons you can use in the classroom, new brain break activities you can use with your class, and health and wellness tips to apply to your life and model for your students.
Health and wellness starts with you. When you’re at your best everyone wins! You win, your students win, your community wins, and your family wins.
Are you a teacher looking for ways to reach students who can benefit from kinesthetic lessons? Are you a superintendent or principal looking to inspire your staff to use these kinesthetic, nutrition, mindfulness lessons, tools, and strategies in the classrooms? If you're interested in creating a culture of health at your school then please contact me so we can inspire healthy teachers, students, and families in your community. I'd love to speak at your school, lead a professional development, or conduct a workshop. Just click the link below to e-mail me.