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Body: Got wheels?

29 Nov

After lugging rocks for the Earth Science Unit, reams of paper for foldables, Teaching Editions for lesson planning, and much, much more on a daily basis, my little foldable crate collapsed before I made it to my classroom one day.

Office Depot® Brand Mobile

I had gotten my collapsible crate on special during the summer thinking it was sturdy enough to handle the job. Before we made it to lugging the pumpkin for pumpkin studies in October, the little plastic pin supporting the bottom flap of the collapsible carte broke. After trying unsuccessfully to find a way to rig the crate so I could still use it as a lightweight carrier, I laid it to rest with my recycling.

I’ve been in search for a replacement. After years of sporting back packs,  teacher bags (sometimes 3 per shoulder),  and at one time even one of those collapsible metallic grocery carts (untill the joints gave out and it would no longer keep its shape when loaded with objects) I started having back trouble last year. It became clear to me that I needed to be smarter about how I transported the “peripherals” for my lessons. Hence the search begins for the new best set of wheels to cart materials to the classroom.

I observed one of my peers has graduated to an actual cart. Taking into consideration that most crates on wheels will probably have a similar construction as the one pictured above, the platform cart actually makes a lot of sense. The small platform makes it possible to arrange boxes and bags of materials, and there is no crate to wear out. A small dolly such as this is made to handle more weight. While the durability is a big plus, the portability and the comfort of a box construction to keep things from rolling away is lost. Were it not for the hefty price, the durability and possibility of sustaining heavier cargo with less slippage would make this my first choice.

Rubbermaid Convertible Utility CartPlatform Truck BlackRed

Another one of the options I considered was the following cart:

Smart Cart Expandable Wheeled Carrying Case

I like the fabric because then there would not be the issue with the plastic supporting pins. In addition, the cart looks collapsible. The problem here is that the cart does not seem sturdy enough to allow stacking given that the size is not generous.

Right now, I’m leaning towards the following option:

I like the flexibility this upright dolly offers. There is still the possibility of objects sliding out. At the same time, this dolly is versatile enough to allow stacking and moving plastic tubs back into the classroom after summer; carrying textbooks at the beginning of the school year when it is time to check out materials; and lugging miscellaneous objects in between. If there is only a heavy book bag or two, they could probably be strapped on with bungee cords. The protection from the rain that the collapsible cart offers is lost. What is not lost is the foldability as well as the affordability of the dolly.
Until classroom materials such as rocks, pumpkins and reams of paper fit nicely onto a flash drive or some other such device of the future, being proactive about protecting the back and shoulders will remain a priority. And as long as we use realia and hands-on lessons to help our students learn, we will be in dire need of an efficient, durable, reasonably priced, and preferably pretty means of packing and transporting all that stuff.

Teacher Body….

25 Nov

Teaching can be a sedimentary profession. Not because of the desk that is no longer present in many classrooms, but because a lot of time is spent planning lessons, creating material, cutting, reading, organizing, etc. What are some ways to get around being figuratively glued to our seats?

I try to start the day by doing some stretches. I lay prone and push up on my hands with my hips to the floor. I think this is called “cobra” in some yoga classes. I was taught by a physical therapist to push up, exhale (which allows your spine to further adjust) and then lay prone again. I repeat this about 10 times. I follow this up with 20 push ups. Then I lay supine. I raise my legs one at a time straight up. Then I clasp my leg behind my hamstrings and bring my leg as close to my body as possible, holding the stretch for about 20 seconds. While I do this I rotate my foot outward for a while, then inward for a while (about 10 counts each way). I follow this by doing “bridge” hip raises. This means while stay laying supine, I bend my legs and bring them in close to my glutes. Then I raise up and squeeze my glutes, and release. I squeeze and release about 20 times. Then I raise one leg and squeeze and release about 20 times. I repeat with the other leg. Then I repeat with both legs on the floor. Now a finish by doing a downward dog which looks like forming a triangle with my body by bending down with my hands on the floor. This take about 10 minutes. That is how much time I can take in the morning for exercise.

During the day, I make periodic trips to do anything. When numbness begins to set in at home, I make it a point to get up and throw in a load of laundry. Or get up and have a glass of water. A really great fitness instructor I had used to promote doing “glute clenches” when driving or sitting. If the sitting is being done in a meeting or training, it is possible to stand up and do stretches near the chair. Take a restroom break. I try to fit in things like jumping jacks, hopping, skipping, and stretching throughout the day with the students. If we are counting, or practicing a “number of the day” it is easy to pair that with exercise. I was surprised at how sore I was after playing “chase” with my students one day at recess. I have seen some teachers walk the halls after school as a break between dismissal and whatever needs to be done next. This can be a way to hold an informal meeting, if only a few people are meeting. I carry my gym clothes in my car to motivate me to stop at the gym on my way home.  Finally, it would be great to get in the habit of going for a walk after work or after dinner. This is not only relaxing, but helps to get in that minimum of 30 minutes of exercise we should be getting daily in order to be healthy.

It would be great to hear how others fit in activity as much as possible throughout the day.