School is starting up or has started. Last night, I was thinking of some ideas that I wish I'd thought about when I first started teaching and some that I did utilize my first year. But mostly, I'm afraid I learned from experience. First tip--the healthier you are the better you'll teach. 1. Get ready for the germs. Until your immunity builds up, you will get sick. Your students will share their germs with you--it's part of the job. If possible, a tub of hand wipes (I like Wet Ones) on your desk is handy for wiping your hands as needed. A pair of scissors in a close drawer can snip off half a wipe so that you'll only pay 1/2 price for the tub. Hand wipes also clean up a multitude of messes including icky-sticky stuff. Of course, student safety is a concern too, and the tub and scissors might need to be inaccessible to students. Tea (I recommend green tea) at lunch can help fight off some of these germs. 2. Eat nutritionally. Time will be a factor, you'll be busier after school than you've ever been, but avoiding fast foods and pre-prepared foods will actually save time by helping you avoid illness and giving you more energy. Think functional rather fancy. Boiling frozen vegetables and just cooking meat (smaller portions of meat is better, by the way) can be just as tasty by experimenting with herbs and spices. Avoid too much salt; try spice substitutes such as Mrs. Dash. And the added spices actually add nutrition. For fancier meals, pre-cook them and freeze them on the weekends. Also worth mentioning, save some non-perishable food, perhaps 1 from each shopping trip such as a small can of vegetables, just in case of an emergency situation. When you get overstocked, eat them or donate them. 3. Sleep. (Or you'll end up doing what I did my 2nd year--falling asleep while giving a spelling test--fortunately, the students' laughter woke me up)! Staying up late to finish some schoolwork isn't worth it. Have a bedtime and stick to it. Rushing in the morning isn't worth it, either, and reckless driving to work isn't always wreck-less (and worse yet, if you injure another person in the process--fortunately, I didn't wreck, but my first years, I should've driven more wisely). Use the calmest alarm that will still wake you up. I like my cell phone's vibration on my dresser, plus I have it rigged to give me a 15 minute window just in case I do feel like a snooze. You need your brain, especially in a demanding job such as teaching. During sleep, your brain organizes everything you've learned about your students and how to assist them; with a good night's sleep, new more efficient insights will pop into your head while you're teaching, but these only come from a good night's sleep. 4. Budget. OK, what does that have to do with health? You need money to eat properly and for other essentials. Here's what I do. I divided my savings into 10 categories on a spreadsheet. Each category subtracts a percentage from my paycheck. It's OK to adjust that percentage as needed to make the deductions more realistic, but otherwise, stick to it. If I do end up in an emergency, I borrow a small amount from each category--better to borrow from myself than the bank. I don't charge myself interest. Which brings up another point. You might have to borrow to start out, but overall, if you can't afford to save up for something, you can't afford to borrow it, either. While on the subject, be super-cautious with credit cards. Buy now: pay later doesn't mean pay later than later. Another caution: I never use my bank's debit card (I don't use any credit cards) at a self serve gas pump; undetectable devices can be stored in the slot to steal your information. Another thought, too, you don't need every gizmo and gadget on the market. You don't need 103 cable channels, either. 5. Be safe. A cell phone with a GPS is essential safety gear. It is advisable to keep the phone a distance from your ear rather than flat against your head to avoid possible cancer or brain damage (even more true with kids' brains). I touch mine to the top of my ear. Even a tiny distance provides much protection--(I'd keep a cell phone totally away from kids' ears, in my opinion). Back to the point, in an emergency, a cell phone is your best source of rescue. The very day I bought my very first cell phone, (I'm old--they didn't exist when I first started teaching), my car broke down and I needed to use it, 20 minutes from the cell phone store. In a shopping mall, for example, if there's a shooting (hopefully never, but it happens) you have a device to call 911 and a GPS to locate where you are. Also, aside from cell phones, listen to your internal intuition. If you suddenly get the willies, your brain might be detecting a barely detectible sound or your eye might barely have noticed something, such as when you're walking back to your apartment. Take immediate action to avoid possible danger. Perhaps nothing is there, but it doesn't hurt to step into a safe area, pick up your phone and pretend to answer it, do something to protect yourself from the hidden danger. If nothing's there, no big deal. If something's there--big, big deal. I hope you have a wonderful first year of teaching. It's the best profession in the world!!!