Three weeks into the school year, and it happens. One day, my throat gets a little sore and then the next day, my voice is completely gone. Laryngitis. Professional hazard. Communication chakra shut down. And what is a teacher to do without a voice?

This cold was a humdinger – in my entire teaching career, I have rarely taken 2 days off in succession because it is usually too much trouble to plan ahead. But with this cold, there was absolutely no way I could teach. Even with 2 days off to rest, I struggled for the rest of the week when I did go back and if it weren’t for the help of fellow teachers, some good preplanning, and the cooperation of my students, I never would have managed.

You may have already received some good council about the importance of seeking a life/work balance. Teachers are so susceptible to germs in our day-to-day jobs because of the age group and the volume of people we come in contact with. So if we can’t avoid coming in to contact with children, how on earth can we find balance so we can protect our health? It is not easy, but it is possible.

Here are some suggestions;

– Try to keep in good health and avoid getting run down. I know it is sometimes hard, but you will be so much happier and effective in the classroom if you are feeling good. To that end, I reckon that the most important factor to maintaining good health as a teacher is getting enough sleep. Second to that is my personal favourite; getting outside for as much time as possible each day – before, during, and after work. Germs spread easily indoors – avoid coming into contact with them if you can. Oh, and drink lots of water (not coffee) to give you energy!

– If you do get sick – and as new teachers and teachers transferring to a new school, it is inevitable as our systems get used to new environments and the stresses of a new assignment –take the time to recuperate. You will not be in top shape to teach and you may be contagious, as well. However, it can be a challenge to make adequately detailed plans for your guest teacher while you are away, so it is a good idea to have some routines set up with your students, lesson plan templates to easily fill in or emergency day plans already drawn up, a sheet with background information on special needs of your students, and the names of a few student helpers who could be called upon to show the guest teacher where the math textbooks are, or explain a class routine. Do this when you are feeling healthy! It will offer you some care-free time to get better.

– When you return to the classroom, be honest about how you are feeling with your students. Your honesty will be appreciated when you say that you are recuperating and may need some helpers throughout the day. As it was a challenge for me to speak and be heard, I relied on the help of students with strong, clear voices to broadcast any messages I had for the class, such as, “Please get your shoes on for gym and quietly line up at the door.” There are always plenty of volunteers for this job!

– Lastly, benefit from the help and support of coworkers.  This cannot be overemphasized, as simple acts of kindness from, taking the time to do some photocopying for you, watching your students while on his or her preparation time to give you a few extra minutes to yourself, inviting your class to participate in a group activity, or sharing a lesson, complete with the necessary resources, that could be easily taught without too much preparation on your part. The best way to make sure that someone will be there for you is to pay it forward and be there for someone when they may need a little support. Good to remember when you are feeling better.

Here’s hoping you have a healthy start to the year. If you have any other tips regarding staying in good form throughout the school year, please feel free to share them!


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