It’s the second week of school, and I’m tired. I’m already looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend to catch up on some sleep my twitter feed.
When I’m in the classroom, though, I owe it to the kids to bring my A game, every time. Here’s how I maximize my classroom energy:
1. Sleep Well. Early to bed and early to rise may not make you healthy or wealthy – none of us do this for the wealth – but it’s a winning strategy for the school week. I’m not a morning person and if I don’t get up early I can’t do any of the things I need to do to start my day off right: coffee, shower, breakfast, and my compulsive morning email checking. I make sure to get up a minimum of two hours before I need to be at school, and I make sure to go to bed a minimum of seven hours before I need to wake up. My ideal would be eleven eight; seven is a bare minimum before I start growling at people and reverting to my native accent.
2. Eat Well. Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Perhaps, but I have salty oatmeal for breakfast every day. Dropping sugar from my morning routine (I used to rock French Toast or Peanut Butter and Nutella Sandwiches) evens out my daily energy level, so I don’t peak during second period and start falling asleep by 4th; keeping it light means I don’t feel weighed down during the morning and I’m hungry in time for an early dinner. For dinner, lots of proteins and vegetables. Eggs are a good last resort if your host family is serving the last unrefrigerated dregs of the borshi they made last week again.
3. Drink Well. Check out our caffeine fix post or Raughley’s Magical Rainbow Review of MacCoffee 3-in-1s. I have Moka coffee with no sugar in the morning and a cup or two of green tea with thyme in the afternoon to relax me after the thirty-eight verses of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” I’ve just sung. Aside from that, drink lots of water and stay hydrated. It will help keep your mouth moist through the aforementioned singing and will also generally improve mood and energy level. Try to avoid drinking alcohol on school nights – aside from making you tired and irritable, Georgian kids can practically smell a hangover and getting knowing looks from an eleven year old wearing a Jack Daniels t-shirt (true story) is surreal even for Georgia.
4. Exercise! Exercise can be hard to come by in this country, but one way to beat the odds is to take some Georgian Dance lessons. When you’re not cutting a rug (or throwing knives into the floor) there are always creative solutions – for instance, I live on the seventh floor of my building, and I walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. This has the benefit of attracting far fewer stares than trying to jog in public (stares or stairs, take your pick) but the disadvantage that the store at the bottom of my stairs sells really delicious cookies. Bikes are also a popular option in Kutaisi, which seems unusual for Georgia; I’m thinking of shipping mine over here. Also, I hear they have Zumba in Tbilisi.
5. Relax! Relax, for energy? Totally. Stress is a killer. Meditate, do yoga, watch five seasons of Breaking Bad in one weekend – whatever you have to do to take your mind away from school and your troubles for a while. Privacy and recharge time can be tough to find in Georgia, but try to find them anyway. Greenery – grass, trees, etc. – is a huge stress reliever, and Georgia has plenty. Take the time to let your mind recover from hearing the word “purple” mispronounced four hundred times so that the next day when you hear it mispronounced the four hundred and first time you can accept it with an air of calm and good cheer – and save your English Teacher Rage for people who don’t know how to use apostrophe’s.
6. Be Positive. Bring your best attitude to class, every day. Make the classroom a place where you want to be. If you need to, take a minute before school to get your head in the game. Children (and your co-teachers) will read your mood and reflect it back towards you. If you make that mood positive, friendly, supportive, and enriching, the kids will reward you by throwing lots of positive energy right back at you. It’s this energy that will make the kids excited about learning and make you excited about teaching. It’s like a vicious cycle, but awesome.
Life in a foreign country takes a lot of adjustment. You can’t always be happy and healthy – sicknesses and frustrations come and go – but if you take reasonably good care of your physical and mental health, everything else is just so much easier. These are all really simple, really easy steps you can take so to enable yourself to appreciate and enjoy your time in Georgia, to take in all the country has to offer, and to give it back in spades.