What is your morning routine?
I always naturally wake up five minutes before my alarm, around 6:00am.
I try and give myself ten to fifteen minutes of private reflection before I get out of bed and the whirlwind of my day starts. I am normally in and out of the shower by 6:30am, and then depending on how lazy I was the night before; turn on the laptop to send documents to my school email and check what needs to be printed once I get into school.
Food for the day ahead is sorted the evening before, and an ironed shirt should be waiting for me. So at this point it’s just a case of getting dressed, doing a desperate search for the keys, wallet, phone, school lanyard, and my Oyster, and getting myself out the door.
Once at school, it’s time to get my laptop open, turn on Radio 4 for the Today programme, get to the photocopier/printer before any other staff members, and settle in my classroom for some quiet planning before briefing and tutor times at 8:45am.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
A month into my NQT (newly qualified teacher) year and it seems to be working for me.
I was never an early riser before, having a reputation for sleeping in to 1-2:00pm while doing my first degree at university. However, having worked in schools for four years now, I am used to the early 6:00am starts.
I find I am the most productive at the start of my day, maybe it’s because I am fresh, or maybe it’s because I know I have twenty five moody teenagers ready to be bluntly honest about me if my lessons are boring and dull.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I think the only things that changes, as I have moved from school to school, is getting yourself comfortable with that school’s routines.
In the last two years I would always get in for 8:00am. However, I am now in earlier because I want to be able claw time back at the end of my day, to be able to have a little more personal time in the evening… even have the luxury of having a social event mid-week.
What time do you go to sleep?
I aim for 10:30pm, but if I am realistic and truthful, it can sometimes stretch to midnight if I have a six period day the following day.
When I first started working in schools, I used to have a nap when coming home, however this kills any working buzz you may have and just leads you to not being able to sleep until much later. For energy levels, six to seven hours doesn’t sound healthy, but it’s better than a broken night sleep of four to five hours, plus an afternoon nap.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I impose a self-ban on the snooze button; ten minutes extra sleep won’t help me in the long run. In the winter, as the temperatures go below zero, this policy is pushed to the test.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I have never been good at having breakfast, and certainly can never eat it at home in the morning. My system doesn’t agree with food that early, and I have memories of my mother forcing toast down me before school each day, which only made me feel sick.
I will often have a cup of tea, a piece of fruit, some mints, and cold water when I get into work, and then feel hungry at break when the day is more settled and I’ve completed my first duties and lessons.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I stretch my upper body and legs, but don’t work out. Unless running for the bus counts?
How about morning meditation?
I have ten to fifteen minutes of private reflection when I wake up. It’s more soothing than when I go to bed, where my mind it still analysing the day’s events.
There is also a moment when I walk from the bus stop through the park that my school is located in that I start to feel good about the day ahead. It’s sound naive, but I do like the optimism that an early morning brings.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
It has to be done first thing, just purely on a logistical level.
Information is power, and any clue of what my day might bring informs the decisions that I make with classes and individual students later in the day. Am I required to do cover today? Has another teacher had a brain wave in the middle of the night? Has that one remaining A-level student decided to email me their homework at 2:00am or not?
As I said; information is power.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?
While I am great at checking email; texts and social media have to wait till I can process the less crucial information.
It sounds awful; but I really don’t care what time my twenty one year old friend got home last night after a night drinking, or that another friend hasn’t slept because their young child wouldn’t stop crying all night. That stuff can be left until I am ready to be a decent human being later in the day.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Getting to work while it’s still quiet so I am happy in my environment. I have dyspraxia, so organisational and awareness levels are tricky for me. I need time for my cognition to kick in, so I don’t cause anxiety for myself.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Orange juice, milk, or cold water. I don’t understand tea first thing, that can wait until I’m at work.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I love staying at friends, and don’t mind travelling; but I find it hard settling into someone else’s routine. I hate staying in a spare room with no television or internet connection. I need information, even if it is the poor excuse for journalism, which is BBC Breakfast. If I do stay over at yours, tell me how to use the television before we go to bed!
Another thing I cannot cope with is having to ‘creep’ and ‘tiptoe’ around someone else’s house before they wake up. I don’t want to be a rude guest, but I just can’t sleep past 9:00am any more.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
At the moment, getting into work past 7.30am seems like I have failed my morning routine, as I know I need some orientation time before the day. It also depends on how heavy my teaching timetable is on any given day. If I am later on Monday or Thursday, I will have time to catch up with myself. However, lateness on Tuesday and Friday would result in it having an impact on my lessons.
I try on the whole to remember that a good start to the day is one where I am incorporating my needs and balancing those with my students. Teachers need to be unlimitedly selfless, have a patience span a nun would be proud of, and be able to work intensely for weeks upon weeks.
However, when half term comes around, expect me to post at 3:00am on Facebook that the eight cocktails I had that evening went done a treat!