By Teachers, For Teachers
What does your lunch break look like? Are you chatting in the teacher’s lounge connecting with your colleagues in the teaching profession, catching up on paperwork, or are you helping students answer questions? There’s no doubt that every teacher’s lunch break looks different. Some in the teaching profession like to use the time to eat and unwind by listening to music, getting in a few minutes of exercise, or reading in a quiet room. Others in the teaching profession like to utilize their time by helping their students, or catch up on grading papers so they won’t have to bring their work home with them.
Unfortunately, not all teachers get the opportunity to choose how they will spend their lunch break. In some schools, teachers don’t have the funds for lunchroom monitors, so it’s the teacher’s job to take on the responsibility of supervising their students for at least half of their lunch period. In other schools, laws are different, where contracts will guarantee a duty-free lunch. For those of you that have the choice of how you want to spend your lunch break, here are a few suggestions on different ways you can spend your time.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but how about actually EATING during your lunch break? Don’t check your email or grade papers. Don’t even think of inviting your students to come eat with you in the classroom or squeeze in a meeting or parent–teacher conference call. Just sit and eat. You can either go into the teacher’s lounge and connect with your colleagues, or just sit in your room and enjoy your lunch. Treat yourself to something that you enjoy to eat. Your body will thank you at the end of the day when you still have energy.
Sitting at your desk or the teachers’ lounge to eat may sound like heaven after being on your feet all morning, but the more that you move throughout the day, the more energy you will have. If your school allows it, then after you eat your lunch go outside and take a quick walk. Not only will the fresh air help you to re-energize, but it will also help clear your mind so you can have a fresh start after your lunch break. If you can’t get outdoors, then try a quick Yoga sequence, a few HIIT (high intensity internal training) moves, or just walk the halls of your school.
You have probably heard that mediation is a great way to relax and decompress your mind. Well, you heard right. All it takes is about two minutes to breathe deeply in and out for your mind and body to reap the benefits. If you get 30 minutes for your lunch, then take the first few or the last few to try meditating. Here is a quick sequence to try out.
To begin you must sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Direct your attention to your breath. Listen as you inhale and exhale. If you find that your mind begins to wander, then start counting your breaths every time you inhale and exhale. This will help you stay focused. Every time you feel yourself getting distracted, bring your attention back to your breath.
As you know, many teachers come into school early and/or stay late so they don’t have to bring their work home with them. You can use this time to eat and catch up on your to-do list. If you schedule it right, then you won’t have to come into school early or stay late. Make copies, grade homework, check your email, and update your parent app or class website, all while eating your lunch.
Many teachers stay away from the teachers’ lounge because they don’t want to get caught up in any school drama. However, when you do this, it hinders your opportunity to build a connection with your colleagues. When you have a solid relationship with a coworker, then you can count on them to help you out if you need it. It gives you a chance to trade ideas, share your student struggles and build a support system. A lot of the time, these coworkers can end up like family, because you see them every single day. Make the time to connect, even if it’s just once or twice a week.
You have the ability to make your lunch break a time of the day that is productive for you. Whether it be eating outdoors, completing a Yoga sequence, helping students, or connecting with colleagues, it’s your time of the day to unwind and refresh.
What do your lunch periods look like in the teaching profession? Do you get a choice or are you mandated to supervise students? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.