In the fall of 2018 I woke up in the morning to prepare for the school day, but as I was getting ready, I noticed I felt really weak and short of breath.  I thought to myself, I’m 35, and I work out all the time, so maybe I am just getting sick.  As the school day went on, I was traveling to different schools as a behavior specialist trying to meet with teachers and observe students for behavior assessments.  I stopped into one school to observe a classroom and as I walked down the hall, I had to stop and sit on the floor.  I was so out of breath, and I just felt like my heart was beating a million miles per hour.  The princiap had to call for the nurse, because I told her I felt like I was going to pass out!  The nurse then proceeded to  check my pulse and my heart rates was beating 190 beats per minute.  With that in mind, they immediately sent me to the emergency room to get medical help.  It turned out, I was suffering from atrial fibrillation.  I had a cardiologist appointment set up the next day, and the doctors told me I have what you call loan afib, which can be brought on by stress and anxiety!  A long story short, that 2018-2019 school year I had eight emergency hospital visits, because of Loan Atrial fibrillation attacks induced by anxiety and stress.  The doctor kept telling me my heart was healthy, and their where no blockages, and that he couldn't really know for a fact what was happening to trigger my atrial fibrillation.  The only thing he could tell me was you need to reduce the anxiety and stress in your life!


With the doctors advice, I began my journey on studying ways to reduce anxiety and stress in my life.  At first I thought this was the dumbest thing ever, because I was like.. I am young, in shape, and I feel like I never get stressed out! That’s the mind set I had, but my body was telling me differently.  With thousands of dollars spent to medical bills for all my emergency room visits, I was desperate for answers! I was averaging a hospital visit at least once a month! So I decided to visit a holistic health and wellness doctor.  What she told me, was not what I wanted to hear!  Her first piece of advice was you need to change your diet up! The coffee, the caffeine, and sugars need to be cut big time out of your daily diet.  She told me water is my best friend, and you should be drinking plenty of it throughout the day.  She also asked what kind of job I was in, and if possible is there any way you could change that job, or find ways to reduce the amount of stress that is triggering your heart to get out of rhythm?  At first, I was thinking, did she just ask me to quit my job? I was thought how can I quit my job, when this is the only thing I have been doing for over a decade! I asked her how can I quit my job, and she said I am not asking you to quit your job! I am asking you to analyze your job and find ways to cut thing out of your job that are causing you stress.  After the visit, I went home to break down pros and cons of my job.  What I realized, is sometimes schools do not have enough resources to fund more staff, and so they like to promote you by adding a better tittle to your position.  My title was a behavior specialist, but the behavior specialist job paid the same as a campus behavior teacher position.  The behavior specialist position had more responsibilities then the campus behavior teacher.  So, I decided to drop a title and just accept a campus behavior teacher position for the same pay.  This help reduce my stress immensely! Instead of being responsible for four school districts as a behavior specialist, I now am in charge of just one school. Sometimes we have to cut back on the responsibility we have working in schools.  Its easy to take on a lot of different responsibilities because we have a hard time saying NO!  Trust me, by reducing the number of hats you wear throughout the school day, you are doing your body a favor!  As a professional, you need to respect your time. Time is the number one asset you will ever have in life, and you never get more of it! Respect your time, you need to get paid for your time.  Don’t let stress and anxiety destroy your body for FREE!


The next thing I did to reduce stress, was delete my email account from my personal phone.  I would find myself looking at my emails during my personal time.  This is not good for your body!  What ends up happening, is that once you check your emails outside of work you start thinking about that email.  I don't know about you, but out of all my years in education I don't get much emails that are about good news! Most of my emails are about problems. What I have learned, is that you are not going to be able to solve that problem on your personal time.  The only way you are going to be able to solve that problem is at work.  The idea of me deleting my email account came to me as I was sitting in a mindfulness professional development.  The message that I couldn't get out of my head was, you are the happiest when your mind and body is present.  When you start thinking about the future or past, that’s when you start to worry and experience feelings that are keeping you from being the happiest.  Knowing this, I always ask myself, my body is present, is my mind?  When my body is experiencing personal time outside from work, why would I want to open an email about problems that I can only solve in the future? This is why I deleted my email from my phone! Thinking about problems that need to be solved at work will ruin your personal time that can be spent in more positive ways!


On a third visit to my doctor, she asked me if I ever did yoga, or meditated? I thought to myself how uncool is yoga and meditation! I do cross fit, I work out hard and train like a top athlete, why would I ever mediate or participate in yoga?  Well, the doctor told me, think of yoga and meditation as a workout for your mind!  She said, you need to focus on relaxing and if you don’t allow your body to take time to relax, then your body will eventually shut down.  She told me think about it like this… If you drive a car at top speed for a long period of time, eventually the motor will catch on fire! She said this is exactly what is happening to you! You keep pushing your body a million miles per hour throughout the day, and you give your body no time to relax! So, I listened to her advice and attended mindfulness yoga classes and learned how to meditate! What I learned, was your mind needs several breaks throughout the day.  Meditation is very hard at first, especially if you never do it.  My advice is to take three to four two-minute breaks throughout your day and just close your eyes and practice taking deep breaths.  Since I have loan afib, I picture my heart breathing in and out slowly, so I can train my heart to stay in rhythm! I also like to attend mindfulness yoga, because this helps me relax so much and it defiantly gets me ready for the week.  There are tons of books and videos on meditation and yoga.  My personal advice, is pick out programs that work for you.  I will even take time throughout my school day to have yoga sessions with my students! This allows them to have several mind breaks throughout the day, and it also benefits me was well.


One a 5thvisit to the doctor’s office, I asked the doctor if she had any more advice for me on how to deal with stress and anxiety.  The words that came out of her mouth about made me fall out of my chair.  She asked me with a straight face, “do you walk outside barefooted in the grass?” I started laughing and said what do you mean by that? She said the way we live in our society keeps us from experiencing the outdoors and how nature can benefit us when it comes to stress and anxiety.  She told me you need to put plants in your classroom, and use more natural lighting.  Experience with earth tone colors.  Make your classroom represent the outdoors.  I thought to myself this won’t work, but I decided to give it a try, and I can’t tell you how much it works.  My room feels so peaceful! I spend most of the day in my room, and I can tell you from experience, you need to be in a stress reducing environment!

I am still learning on how to reduce as much stress and anxiety as I can in my life to keep me from having my episodes of loan atrial fibrillation. These are just some of the top interventions that has helped me reduce my irregular heart beat! Keep in mind stress and anxiety are toxins to our body, and we need to respect our bodies better, if we tend to live a long successful enjoyable life!

This article was created as part of Twinkl‘s worldwide wellbeing campaign, TeacherTruths. Head over to their Year of Wellbeing page to read other’s views and find out how you can have your say.

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Many parents struggle when it comes to getting their kids to complete their homework! For some, homework time becomes a nightmare that some parents don't want to participate in! Well, I recently was interviewed in a podcast show to talk about different strategies parents could use to decrease tantrums! When I talk about strategies, I always prepare parents, that these strategies will take time, and consistency is key!

1. What parents should know about homework?

If your kid is having a hard time doing the homework, I would start to question if your kid understands the homework. When students receive homework, its sole purpose is to keep your kids learned skills on par. When students struggle with homework, I would automatically think this must be a new skill being taught by the teacher, and a new skill should never be sent home for homework. Homework should be a learned skill. For example, reading, and repetition of math problems. Those are activities that keeps those learned skills fresh in your child's mind!

2. Make homework fun.

There are all sorts of ways to make homework fun! For example, you could get some shaving cream out and have your kid write with shaving cream solving math problems, or use finger paint to practice writing letters. Kids can get bored with the old paper pencil ways of completing homework. If you can just be creative, and think of ways your kids could complete their homework, you could possibly reduce the tantrums. Remember, kids love to have adult attention, and they really love it when you play with them, so if you can make homework into a game, you might end up succeeding when it comes to having your kids complete their homework.

3. Don’t get mad or frustrated with your kid.

Have patients, when you start yelling or getting upset with your kid for not doing homework, you start making homework viewed as a bad thing! Your kids could start having anxiety when they see homework, and think to themselves that they will just get in trouble when it is homework time. Remember, you can never punish anyone to be motivated to perform a task. When kids see homework as not fun, more than likely they are not going to want to do their homework.

4. Set a daily schedule.

Just because its summer time, doesn’t mean you as a parent can’t add homework to your kids daily schedule. Practicing learned skills, such as reading every day is actually good for your kids. If you keep your kid on a daily routine for completing homework, it becomes a home expectation. It also teaches your kid, that you value education. Now, don’t go watch tv and tell your kid to go read a book, you might want to make homework time a time for everyone including you to do some homework. Read a book, model to your kids that homework time is also for the adults in the home as well.

5. Reinforce your kids for completing their homework, we all know kids like to stay up a little later than usual, so why not give them a chance to earn an extra 15 min to stay up for completing their homework! The best way is to have a list of reinforcements your kid would like to earn for completing their homework on time. When you have highly motivating reinforcements you can use, you can also use consequences that take the place of you getting mad. You can use loss of time, or not earning a desired activity. Just remember, if you are going to add a token economy to your homework procedures, talk with your child’s teacher to keep them in the loop. If your kid doesn’t get their home work done, your kids teacher will know about it, and understand you are working on behavior change at the house. Your child’s teacher may even be able to help you out when it comes to figuring out ways to fix the dreaded homework problem.

6. Don’t use threats like, just wait until your dad hears about this!

When you tell your kid, that you are going to tell their father, or vice versa tell their mother or whoever you think will be a threat, what you are actually doing is giving your power away. You don’t want to do that. What you are saying to your child is that you can’t make your child do anything, but their father or mother can. Never give up your power, you want to be able to carry out the process of having your kid get their homework done. If you are always telling your kid, wait until your father or mother comes home, you are actually telling your child I don’t know how to deal with you, but your father or mother does, and when you try to get your kid to do other activities besides homework, your kid may not listen to you, because he or she doesn’t see you as the person who is the final decision maker. Remember discipline needs to be a team approach! Kids are very smart, and if you and your significant other are not on the same team, your kids will take advantage of you to get what they want!

Blog by Josh Ruse

Instagram: @hardcorebehaviorist


Podcast: Classroom Success 101

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The challenge of maintaining discipline in the classroom is not new to education. Teachers feel helpless because they feel they don’t have any power or authority to enforce classroom or school rules. Ask any teacher what their biggest obstacle is to providing quality lessons and the matter of ill-discipline will inevitably rank among their top 3. The emotional and physical toll of the ‘normal’ expectations placed on teachers leaves little energy to do crowd control. This is what many teachers’ classroom management has become – crowd control.

There's no quick, one-size-fits-all solution - and odds are there never will be. However, there are some general beliefs about discipline that need to be revised. Most of the tried and tested discipline techniques only address the symptoms of deeper-rooted causes. We need to address the cause if we're to rid the classroom of the symptoms.

Corporal punishment

What would a discussion about discipline be without addressing corporal punishment? Many advocates of the ‘carrot and stick’ strategy - who mostly whip out the stick without any thought of the carrot - proclaim corporal punishment to solve the matter of ill-discipline. After all, it 'worked for many generations' and it 'didn’t have that many serious negative effects on individuals'. However, research has shown that learners’ ability to retain information and learn concepts decrease when learning occurs in a state of fear. Using corporal punishment creates a fearful classroom. In a society where violence and abuse seem to be on the increase, we shouldn't contribute to the deterioration of the social fabric. Regardless of any personal view you might have of the efficacy of corporal punishment, it has been outlawed.

The case for control

Giving up control of your classroom - even if it's just a tiny bit - is scary. Sadly, teachers who run their classrooms like a dictatorship will quickly be confronted with one or two ‘anarchists’ who know that they can derail a lesson by stressing the teacher out.

By loosening your grip on the lesson and classroom atmosphere, you allow space for cooperation. Allow for freedom of expression within the clear boundaries you set.

Be consistent in your expectations, communicate these expectations clearly, and model the behaviour you wish for. When you do everything in your control to create an environment that is conducive to learning, you'll be able to hand over control of the lesson and experience creativity in action. There is freedom in accepting that you can only control three things in life:

1. Your thoughts

2. Your words

3. Your actions

Apart from these three factors, you’re not in control of anything. Therefore, ensure that your thoughts, words and actions are structured in such a way that learners want to model them.

Build relationships

Most humans have an innate desire to feel important. We are content when this need is fulfilled but will go out of our way to meet the need when we feel unimportant. This is also true for the learners in your class. All of them. When teachers take interest in the lives of those they teach, they start building a relationship of trust. Take the time to get to know the individual. What are their interests, hobbies, and extra-mural activities? Be genuine in your endeavour to build a relationship with the individual and you'll be rewarded with behaviour that respects your expectations. The further advantage is that you get insight into the psyche of the person whom you're teaching. This allows you to select appropriate examples when explaining concepts that would resonate with the individual.

Practical tip: Dedicate at least one break per week to building relationships. Instead of drinking tea in the staffroom, drink your tea on the playground; observe behaviour and have informal chats.

The relationship with the learner is only one piece of the puzzle. You would greatly improve the chances of winning a learner over when you also build a relationship with the learners’ parents. Start the academic year off by inviting parents to contact you, in person or digitally, and discuss the learner’s likes and dislikes and use this information in your teaching.

Blog Article by: Francois Naude, PhD

Website (only officially launching in October):

Instagram and Twitter: @super_teacher_f

Facebook: Super Teachers Unite

LinkedIn: Francois Naude, PhD.

Be on the lookout for my podcast launching in October.

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