Self-Care Tips for Teachers

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and to celebrate we would like to share some of our best self-care tips for teachers. Being a teacher is immensely rewarding, but it can also be challenging and stressful, so it’s important to find ways to switch off and take care of yourself! Read on for some of our best tips…

Put healthy boundaries between work and freetime

It can be tempting to bring piles of schoolwork home for marking, or to check your email throughout the evening. Sometimes this might be unavoidable, but it’s important to not let work take over your whole life. If you do take work home from school, try to set a reasonable time limit. This also means not always being available via email or phone. 

Take weekends off

Following on from the last point—even if planning and marking might sometimes bleed into the evenings, it’s important to take actual weekends to rewind, spend time with family and friends, and have fun. If it’s impossible to not do any work at all, try to at least stick to a short session and, again, set a time limit. 

Get organized and work smarter

This might seem obvious, but getting organized and planning ahead can help immensely. Find reliable teaching resources, plan out lessons in advance, and make sure you’ve got a planning system in place that works for you—whether you prefer paper calendars or digital planners.

Take care of your health 

Mental health and physical health are closely connected, so if we’re taking care of our body that will inevitably affect our happiness and our stress levels. Try to find a selection of healthy meals and snacks that you love and a workout routine that suits you and your life. If you’re short on time, look into things like short online workout classes and meal prepping.

Prioritize your sleep

We all know how important sleep is to our overall health. When you’ve got a busy day of teaching ahead, it’s perhaps even more important to have slept well! Aim for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, and try to implement a winding-down routine before bed.

Have a good morning routine 

After your good night’s sleep, it’s important to start the day right. Having a good morning routine can impact your whole day, so try to figure out what you need in the morning and make sure that you have enough time to implement that each morning. Leave time for a proper breakfast, perhaps a workout, and a stress-free journey to work! 

Connect with other teachers

Being able to talk to other people who understand the challenges of the teaching profession can be incredibly beneficial. You might already have a strong support system at work, but if not, it’s worth connecting with a group of teachers—whether it’s a local group or an online community. 

Celebrate your successes

A lot of people are prone to focusing more on problems and challenges, rather than on successes. Did you have a significant breakthrough with a struggling student? Did you have a particularly engaged group of students today? Or did you try something new that your students loved? Remember to celebrate these successes—big or small! 

Don’t hesitate to ask for help 

Whether it’s asking a colleague for help with a teaching problem or asking a professional to help with your mental health, it’s important to recognize when you are struggling and need support. There is no shame in asking for help, and doing so can help you avoid bigger issues. 

We hope these tips will help you prioritize your health and wellbeing. 

Meet the Twig Team: Introducing Cheryl de La Vega

Tell us a bit about your role and how you became a part of the team at Twig.

US Vice President, Sales. 

I received a call from Catherine Cahn. We discussed her idea to create a new science solution for the United States around the new NGSS standards, phenomena, and three-dimensional learning. After many discussions about various visions regarding possible solutions and engaging students, it was my kids who convinced me to join Twig in the end. After previewing about 10 prototype science and engineering films, I was impressed that such quality content could be created so quickly. Most importantly, my children’s reactions to the films were what really convinced me. I was working in my loft watching one of the films while my kids were downstairs playing video games. One child overheard the audio and came upstairs to see what it was; shortly thereafter the other followed. One sat on my lap to have a front seat and the other stood behind me to watch. They asked me to rewind it. Then they asked for more… again, again, and again until there were no more to watch. That’s when I knew I’d better call Catherine back because this was magical. We could continue to build an entire student experience from this type of engagement.

In three words, how would you best describe Twig Education to our followers?

Magical student experiences.

What is your favorite thing about your role at Twig?

My favorite thing about my role at Twig is that we truly change students’ lives by exciting, surprising, and engaging them. The more students that we engage and inspire, the more problem-solvers and innovators will emerge. We’re creating futures, maximizing potential, and opening new windows of opportunity.

What helps motivate you on those days when you need a little push?

The phone rings off the hook—it is a constant push! But seriously, what motivates me is that I want to ensure all students—including students of color—have equitable access to engaging, high-quality instruction that provides inspiration to learn, problem-solve, innovate, and discover their full potential. I too experienced poverty when I was young, after my father suffered health issues that prevented him from keeping the job that he’d had for many years. We immediately fell into poverty in our family of seven. We moved (literally and figuratively) from a peaceful life to one of constant worry in a new neighborhood full of drug dealers and drive-by shootings. We went from playing in the streets with our friends to hiding in our house so that we wouldn’t be persecuted by drug dealers. School became an escape. All of my brothers and sisters used school as a way to get out of poverty—that was the only way in our situation. What motivates me is remembering those difficult times. You can travel the world and change your circumstance by turning the pages of a book.

If you weren’t working at Twig Education, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t working at Twig, I would be working with adolescent-aged students of poverty and students of color to help inspire them to attend college or seek an innovational trade. Many students are born into environments where college and career aren’t table topics in their families—because other social-emotional and traumatic issues take priority. Students need guidance, role models, and positive reaffirmation to persevere through school and life.

If you could go back in time and give advice to your 16-year-old self, what would it be?

Don’t work three jobs in high school and give up the sports you love. I worked to get a car and save money to attend college to become a teacher.

Could you share an interesting fact about yourself for our followers? Something that we don’t already know about you?

I have dabbled in my genealogy and discovered that I am:

33% Amerindian

8% Middle East/North African

16% Iberian peninsula

15% Basque

4% Italian peninsula

10% Scandinavian

9% Irish

5% Horn of Africa

If only I understood how my genetic mix came about. I would love to know the history of my ancestors’ migrations that led to me.

Interested in learning more about our team? Click the links below!
https://learn.twigeducation.com/meet-the-twig-team-anna-coombes
https://learn.twigeducation.com/meet-the-twig-team-yasmin-wong

How Do You Know You’re Looking at a Real CA NGSS Program?

Don’t Be Fooled by “Frankenstein” Programs that Just Bolt On the CA NGSS

Twig Science was built from the ground up for the CA NGSS, with every detail designed to deliver investigation-based, phenomena-centered learning.

Other programs claim to be CA NGSS, but too often, beneath the surface, they’re Frankenstein products—legacy programs with bits of the CA NGSS bolted on.

So how do you know you’re getting the real deal?You’ve got to look at the instructional shifts required by the CA NGSS (link).

Here are three key things to watch out for:

1. Units Build to Unpack Anchor Phenomena

LOOK FOR:

A program in which “Students engage in the CA NGSS practices to build deeper understanding of science and engineering content and make sense of phenomena and design solutions” (CA NGSS instructional shift).

Genuine CA NGSS units embed anchor phenomena to inspire students to observe and make sense of phenomena for themselves through a series of investigations that build understanding—until students can unpack the anchor phenomena themselves.

AVOID:

Programs that simply “bolt on” phenomena on top of content—where information is front-loaded rather than discovered. They’re often rigidly divided into life, earth, and physical sciences—rather than integrated across all science disciplines.

See how Twig Science has been built to support the CA NGSS from the foundations up: Evaluation Rubric—Foundations video

2. Fully Integrated Engineering Design Process

LOOK FOR:

A program in which “Engineering is integrated into all science disciplines” (CA NGSS instructional shift) Genuine CA NGSS programs have students use the engineering design process as a fully integrated part of how students investigate phenomena or design problems.

AVOID:

Programs where “Engineering is treated as an add-on.” The addition of engineering practices is new to the CA NGSS, so it’s easy to recognize programs that are just superficially adapted to it. They can’t integrate the engineering design process into legacy materials, so they’re forced to create special “STEM” or “Engineering Challenges” and—once again—bolt them on top.

See a preview of a Twig Science module and its series of true real-world engineering investigations:
BioTech Systems Worldwide teacher trailer video

3. Student-Driven Investigation

LOOK FOR:

Programs in which “engaging in science and engineering practices allows students to revise their
thinking and understanding”
(CA NGSS instructional shift).

Students should lead the discovery using the full range of science and engineering practices (SEPs)—asking
and answering their own questions, carrying out their own collaborative investigations, and coming to their own
evidence-based conclusions.

AVOID:

Rather than using the SEPs to explore a phenomenon, some programs use the “scientific method”
to lead students through investigations to “prove” or “demonstrate” what they’ve already been told.
See how the structure of Twig Science modules encourages students to lead their own discovery:
Twig Science program structure video

If you’re not looking at Twig Science, you’re looking at old science.

Planning Inspiring Lessons in Twig Science Next Gen

Twig Science Next Gen makes it easy to plan great STEAM sessions, with easy-to-use guides to standards and resources, step-by-step supports, and built-in differentiation.

Each module is focused on an Anchor Phenomenon or Engineering Design Challenge. Students gather evidence to make sense of these these while connecting them to Driving Questions and Investigative Phenomena.

Twig Science Next Gen is based on an inquiry-driven instruction model and a 5E lesson design to engage and motivate your students through active learning.

Here’s what you see when you start a new Twig Science Next Gen lesson:

And here’s a typical lesson page, with discussion prompts, clearly marked session and assessment types, and differentiated instruction:

Interested in finding out more about Twig Science Next Gen? Get in touch with us today.