The Teacher Break Room by Karen Salvador

by Admin on April 20, 2010

Teacher break rooms are notorious for having every kind of junk food readily available. Monday is my consulting day at my school. I have made this my cleanse day to avoid the call of “the  break room. This week I decided I would cleanse today, Tuesday. I armed myself with allotted snacks and lunch along with my water jug. The very first thing I put my lunch in the refrigerator and before me is a box of snacks. Ugh. Of course I have to see what they are. I tell myself maybe I won’t like what is in there anyway, but not the case. I walk away and get my water in me. First battle won.

The morning is busy working with a couple of teacher assistants who are working to collect data for me. Where do we meet, though? The teacher break room. After they understand exactly what I need, I quickly walk away to my office to work on the report I am writing for the state. I’m also seeing that I am on target with my water consumption. Second battle won.

Finally, it is lunch time. Where do I have to heat up my meal? The teacher break room. By now the goodies are starting to tempt me because I am hungry. I am very thankful that what I am heating up is equally yummy, but far more nutritious. I set the microwave and remove myself from the break room, returning when I hear the beep. I quickly take my dish to my office, away from temptation. More water. Third battle won.

Things aren’t going well. The data isn’t telling me what I had hoped. Things are looking grim and it will challenge me in how I construct my report. Never good to lie in something like this and it isn’t my style anyway. But how do I show the real story and how do we as a school intervene? My brain is busy and this is never a good time if snacks are nearby. I am in the breakroom again and this time, alone. I stop and really look at those snacks, but this time I ask myself if I really want to deal with those calories? Do I really want the crap of processed foods working against all the good I am doing for myself? Stopping for just a moment to think about this, I walk away to my office and pull out one of my planned snack foods. I feel really good about my decision and the better nutrition actually seems to be letting my brain free up. I know how to tell the story of our students and why their state scores went down this last year. A lot rides on this, but I am confident I am on the tright track. Drinking more water and realizing how good it tastes.

Late afternoon, my day at school almost done. I gather some of the data and meet with our lead teacher. I show him what I have found and discuss with him what could be at the root of this turn of events. We recap the last year and a half. Finally, he hits on something and with what I have pulled together, it makes sense. I tell him what we have found is more important than this report as it gives us a way to help our students. We are both confident we have found a way to make a difference. My brain is jumping with ideas and I visualize not just the report, but what changes to the curriculum I can make to help my teachers. For a fleeting moment I realize that I went through all of this without using food to “get me through.” I smile inside. I go back to my office and sit to eat my second snack and then pack up my materials to leave.

When I get home I feed my dog, Ariel, and my cat, Sunny. Once they are content, I make my final shake of the day and feel it being readily absorbed by my body. mmmm… I then find myself at my computer with the energy to jump back into the framework of my report and pull together the ideas Keith and I had discussed so they are not lost. I pull some websites with the texts he and I discussed and send the links for him to review. It is a good place to stop for the day. With everything in a good place, I decide to take a walk. Not so much for the exercise, but to process my day. I walk briskly in my neighborhood for about 30 minutes and my brain begins to wind down. It is time to understand just how differently this day could have gone if I had allowed the old patterns of feeding stress with food to take over. Things do change. And the change is good.

I always tell my students, “si se puede.” You can do it. So can I.

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