Monday, February 16, 2015


Happy President's Day! If you were lucky enough to get the day off from school or work, I'm green with envy. Houston ISD was up and running, but I actually wasn't too upset about it. With only five weeks until the STAAR test, every day truly does matter. Besides, it wasn't like the weather was super ideal today, anyway, right? I'll just pretend that it wasn't the perfect weather for curling up in bed with a cup of hot tea and a good book.

Though I wasn't too bummed about having to go to school today, I also wasn't fully prepared. I got home just after 4pm yesterday, but the last thing I wanted to do was think about school. Clearly, as was stated in last night's blog post. And I'm having a hard time even looking at my desk at school right now, as it is absolutely buried in papers. One student put it nicely when he said, "That's not a desk, that's a paper holder." Sadly, it's very true. And it kills me to be so disorganized, but with the end of the fourth six weeks, I have extra copies of just about everything we've done this cycle, along with upcoming assignments, and of course, the Mock STAAR packets are taking up quite a bit of room. I think I'm going to have to suck it up and either stay really late after school one day, or carve out an hour or two on Saturday or Sunday and devote it to getting organized. I'm drowning in a sea of papers and I have got to get it under control!

Desk Exercises

I know I don't have much to complain about, seeing as some parts of the country are being slammed with snow and cold temperatures. However, the weather down here in Texas changed drastically in a matter of hours. Remember how I talked about how much warmer it was than I expected? Yeah, not the case today. It is officially cold and obviously I was not planning on running today, but I am hoping to get in an evening swim, weather permitting. Though swimming is an awesome full-body workout, it's so low-impact that my body is almost craving it after tackling those hills yesterday. Let's just say that climbing the stairs to the third floor was tougher than it usually is.

And on that note, let's talk deskercise, or desk exercise. Or desk job strategies. I realize that many, many jobs require long periods of sitting, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with those jobs. However, it has been proven time and time again that long periods of sitting can have negative effects on our health, and I know I'm certainly guilty of extended sit time. Though I'm typically reading or watching television or surfing the web, so my sitting time is maybe not quite as justified. So, with all of that being said, and while I'm well aware that there are more of these articles out there than one can count, let's take a look at a couple of my favorite solutions, shall we?

1. This is something that I am most definitely going to look into should I be gifted a classroom (fingers crossed!!) next year - a standing desk. I hardly sit during the day anyway, but often times I find myself sitting in order to get some grading done. It's either that, or bending over to grade on a table, and I know that's not good for me. One of the teachers whose room I float into has a podium, and I love standing up there and doing some grading. And I know standing desks can get expensive, but hey, I'm willing to wager that Pinterest has some great DIY options!

2. Take the stairs. Sure, the elevator can be enticing, especially when you're carrying a purse and a briefcase and a laptop and a gym bag and so on, but taking the stairs is such an easy way to stretch those legs. You can even take a quick work break and walk up and down the stairs a couple of times. When I was attending the AP Summer Institute this past summer, I found myself sitting for eight hours a day, so I would use the bathroom on the floor above or below me, just so that I could get a little bit of movement throughout those long periods of sitting. Take them two at a time for a greater challenge!

In the Barcelona Metro Station - so not PC, but so funny (Source)
3. Desk (or wall) push-ups and tricep-dips*. Desk push-ups are a little more "work clothes" friendly. For the push-ups, put both hands, shoulder-width or a bit wider apart, on your desk, and walk your feet back about a yard or so. Bend your elbows to bring the body close to the desk or wall, and then push back up, extending your arms fully but not locking them. Repeat 12-15 times. If you want more intensity, try a lower surface. Turn yourself around in order to target the backs of those arms. Place your palms, facing forward, on the edge of your desk (or a chair). Sitting up nice and tall, elbows squeezed in tightly, slowly bend your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle. Be sure not to go past 90 degrees! Extend your arms straight again, and repeat 12-15 times. Be sure to keep your feet together, whether your legs are extended or bent.
*I suggest avoiding the rolling chair for these exercises.

4. Say you're waiting for something to print, or maybe you're making hundreds of copies (is that just me?), or you're scanning, or faxing, or just doing something that is taking a little bit of time. Instead of just standing there (or worse, sitting), tone those calves! Position your feet shoulder-width apart, rise up to your tiptoes, hold for one second, and then lower back down. Want an added challenge? Try doing these just one leg at a time. 

5. The Wooden Leg. While sitting in your chair, extend one leg out in front of you and hold for two seconds. Then raise your leg up as high as you can and again, hold for two seconds. Repeat 15 times before switching legs. 

And I'm preaching to the choir over here because I myself don't always have the best posture when I am sitting. However, it's very important to make sure you are practicing correct posture. Because Forbes can say it better than I can, "Adjust the height so you're in a 90-90-90 position - feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest and your knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles. Keep your lower spine flat against the back of the chair to maintain proper curvature." Don't be like my students (okay, and me) and slouch over in your chair. Sit up straight and tall - it's good for a lot more than you think, specifically avoiding unnecessary pain. And instead of emailing your co-worker with that important question, get up and go see him or her! Not only are you squeezing in some extra exercise, you will also likely get a response in a more timely fashion, and, most importantly, face-to-face interaction is a good thing.

Enjoy the rest of your Monday, and be sure to stay warm!

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