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. 

Topical Science—April 2021

Welcome to another month of fun science! Whether you’re teaching from home or in the classroom, these videos will help you make science class more topical and fun. Let’s jump right in.

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Sunday, April 4

Geologists Day

This day was established in 1966 and celebrates the work of geologists. Geologists are scientists who study the natural processes that shape our world—for example, rock formations and how these are created. One of the world’s most famous land formations is the Grand Canyon. Discover how the Grand Canyon was created in this video:

Monday, April 5

National Wildlife Week

Celebrated since 1938, National Wildlife Week is an annual education program that connects and educates conservationists of all ages. The aim of the movement is to teach people how we can protect wildlife and wildlife habitats. One simple thing you can do to help is cleaning up outdoor spaces—for example, doing a beach cleanup. Learn more.

Wednesday, April 7

World Health Day

World Health Day is a global awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization. Each year, the day focuses on a specific health topic, with the aim to improve the health of people all around the world. One important aspect of health is what you eat. Learn more about what constitutes a balanced diet in this video: Watch now.

International Beaver Day

In North America, the beaver population has drastically diminished over the last centuries. As a result, a lot of wetlands have disappeared, causing problems such as water pollution and flooding. By protecting beavers and letting them build their dams, those problems could be avoided, which is the aim of this day. Learn more about how beavers build dams: Watch now.

Monday, April 12

International Day of Human Space Flight

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space. In 2011, on the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s journey, the UN proclaimed April 12 the International Day of Human Space Flight. The day celebrates all the humans who have ever traveled into space and the important research they have done. On this day, why not find out more about astronauts’ lives in space? For example, how do they exercise?  Watch now.

Wednesday, April 14

National Dolphin Day

This day aims to educate people about dolphins, their habitats, and their importance to the health of the ocean. It also encourages people to find out what they can do to protect dolphins. Dolphins are amazing creatures who have a very special way of communicating with each other—echolocation! Learn more.

Thursday, April 22

International Mother Earth Day

Established by the UN in 2009, this day promotes “a view of the Earth as the entity that sustains all living things found in nature.” In other words, it encourages us to learn about how everything on the Earth, including us humans, relies on the health of the planet and its biodiversity. But what is biodiversity? 

Saturday, April 24

World Immunization Week

This World Health Organization event promotes the importance of vaccines to protect people around the world from diseases. Every year, millions of lives are saved because of immunization, and many diseases, such as polio, have been almost completely eradicated thanks to vaccines.

Sunday, April 25

National DNA Day

On this day in 1953, Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins published their groundbreaking papers on the double-helix structure of DNA. To celebrate, this day encourages people to learn more about DNA. You can find out more in this video: 

Monday, April 26

Richter Scale Day

This day celebrates the birth of Charles F. Richter, an American seismologist who invented the Richter scale. Today, the Richter scale is used worldwide to measure the strength of earthquakes. But how does the scale work? Find out more:  

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Topical Science—March 2021

Happy March! Are you ready for another month of topical science content? Below, we’ve collated free science videos and articles to complement the holidays and observance days in March. Hopefully, this content will be welcome inspiration for the last few weeks of school before spring break.

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Wednesday, March 3

World Wildlife Day

This global annual event was created by the UN in 1973 and celebrates the world’s wildlife, with the goal of protecting wild animal and plant species from threats such as habitat loss and illegal hunting. One way of protecting wildlife is through conservation work. For example, in Namibia, an ecotourism venture protects the country’s black rhinos—one of the world’s rarest creatures. Find out more.

Monday, March 8

International Women’s Day

Celebrated for over 100 years in countries all over the world, this day became an official UN day in 1975. For decades, women have used this day to fight for their rights. On this day, why not learn more about one of history’s most celebrated female scientists, Marie Curie? Find out more.

Sunday, March 14

International Day of Mathematics

This day, also known as Pi Day (since the first three digits of π are 3.14) has been celebrated since 1988. In 2019, UNESCO recognized it as the International Day of Mathematics. Math isn’t just for the classroom—it’s present everywhere in nature! For example, the periodical cicada seems to make use of prime numbers to survive. Find out more: 

Thursday, March 18

World Sleep Day

World Sleep Day is an annual event organized by the World Sleep Society that has been celebrated since 2008. The goal of the event is to highlight the importance of a good night’s sleep and to bring attention to the health problems that bad sleep can lead to. But how does the body know that we sleep at night? Watch this video to find out what makes us sleepy: Watch now.

Sunday, March 21

International Day of Forests

This day was established by the UN in 2012 with the aim of raising awareness of how important forests are to the health of the planet—and, by extension, the health of us humans. The day raises awareness of the problems of deforestation and encourages projects that protect forests, such as tree-planting campaigns. But what is deforestation, and why is it so bad?

Monday, March 22

World Water Day

World Water Day is a UN observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. Access to clean freshwater is crucial to people’s survival and health, but around the world, many people struggle to access it. So where does freshwater come from? Let’s learn more about the water cycle:

Tuesday, March 23

World Meteorological Day

On March 23, 1950, the World Meteorological Organization was established, and since then this day has been celebrated in all countries that are members of the organization. The day celebrates the contribution of meteorological services to society—for example giving early warnings of severe weather, such as strong winds and storms. On this day, why not learn more about why wind travels the way it does? 

Saturday, March 27

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). For one hour, between 8.30 and 9.30 pm, people are encouraged to turn off all unnecessary electricity. This symbolic action aims to raise awareness of the impact that our electricity usage has on climate change. Learn more about global warming by watching this video:

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UAE Hope Probe Reaches Mars

Image Credit: UAE National Space Agency

This weekend, the UAE’s National Space Agency announced that their Hope probe had sent back its first image of Mars. Earlier in the week, after a seven-month journey, the space probe successfully entered into orbit around Mars.

The process of entering orbit around a planet is tricky. The spacecraft has to fire its engines and slow down enough to be captured by the planet’s gravity—a process known as fuel burn. Hope successfully entered the “capture orbit” of Mars last Tuesday. After a nail-biting 11-minute wait, signals from the probe reached the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, and the country could celebrate. 

The next day, 15,300 miles from the surface of Mars, the first image of the planet was taken. This image shows the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, as well the Tharsis Montes, three volcanoes that sit in a row. This image is the first of many more to come while the space probe completes its mission. The probe will spend at least a year orbiting Mars, finding out more about the planet’s weather and seasonal changes. 

The data collected by the space probe will be available to scientists all over the world, hopefully by September this year. NASA’s Perseverance rover and China’s Tianwen-1 rover-orbiter will also examine Mars during this time, so we are likely to find out a lot more about the red planet in the near future! 

Hope’s arrival was timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE’s seven emirates, and the UAE hopes that this mission will be an inspiration to the country’s young people. 

Want to teach your class more about Mars and space travel?

Tigtag Junior (ages 4–7):

Tigtag (ages 7–11):

Twig World (ages 11–16):

Alice Ball | Black History Month

Nowadays, leprosy is a disease that can be easily treated by antibiotics, as long as it is diagnosed early enough. However, before the development of antibiotic medicine in the early 20th century, people were terrified of the disease and the disfigurement it brought with it. Many scientists worked to develop treatments to alleviate the suffering of those with the disease.

One such scientist was Alice Ball, an African-American chemist born in Seattle in 1892, although she had her work stolen from her, and it took years for her to receive full credit.

After graduating from Seattle High School, Ball earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington—one in pharmaceutical chemistry and one in the science of pharmacy. She was offered several scholarships and went on to study for a master’s degree in chemistry at the College of Hawaii (now the University of Hawaii), focusing on the chemical properties of the kava plant. After graduating, she was offered a position as a chemistry instructor—becoming the first African-American woman to teach the subject at the university.

Her expertise in plant biochemistry led to her becoming the research assistant of Dr. Harry T. Hollmann, working at the Kalihi Hospital in Hawaii. There, she studied the chemical properties of chaulmoogra oil, which at the time was the most effective treatment for Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. The oil had been used as a treatment since the 1300s, but it wasn’t very effective—it was so sticky it couldn’t be used topically, and if it was injected it would clump under the skin instead of being absorbed. 

Within just a year, Ball came up with a new technique that made the oil injectable. Through chemically modifying the oil, she turned it into a water-soluble solution that could easily be absorbed by the body, with minimal side effects. Before this, leprosy was considered an incurable disease and those infected were often isolated and shut out from society, as people feared the disease spreading. The injectable oil extract completely changed the lives of leprosy patients and remained the favored treatment until the 1940s, when antibiotics were invented.

Ball was only 23 years old when she came up with this technique. Sadly, she became ill during her research—likely due to an accidental exposure to chlorine while teaching. She returned to Seattle for treatment, but died a year later. Her death meant that she wasn’t able to properly publish her findings. Instead, the president of the College of Hawaii, chemist Arthur Dean, stole her work, published the findings in his own name, and began producing the injectable oil. 

Finally, in 1922, Hollmann published a paper in which he gave Ball credit for the research, after which the technique became known as the “Ball Method.” Today, Ball holds a posthumous Medal of Distinction from the University of Hawaii, and in 2017 a scholarship was established in her name.