While many professionals have long had the opportunity to occasionally – or even regularly – work from home, the work at home world is new to most K-12 educators. Unless you work at an online school or alternative program, then your work has likely compelled you to be in a school building, governed by bells.
While your learning curve with technology, the strength of the wifi signal, and your school’s virtual schedule are not controllable, try your best to control the time you are off-screen by taking a few minutes to make your own staff lounge.
I know you feel swamped. I know you may be thinking it’s not worth the time to do this (remember in March, when we thought we’d be home for a long “spring break”?) But it is. Your body and mind deserve – in fact, require – a break from the screen and some alternative input.
Are you among the thousands of educators in need of some work at home self care right now? Take a few minutes to make your own teacher lounge.
This can be anything, really, that’s not the chair or stool where you are teaching or working for the majority of the day. If you have a really comfy work at home chair (and if you do, I’m jealous!) then try moving it to different spot in your home, just to have a change of scenery.
Weather permitting, of course, you can make your teacher lounge outdoors – in your yard, on your patio or lani, or on your balcony or deck. But when heat, cold, rain, or wind make that less-than-desirable, then bring some “nature” to your indoor space with a plant or a bouquet of cut flowers.
(I have a notoriously hard time keeping anything alive (a total brown thumb!) so I was thrilled when I was able to coax the nearly-dead orchid from my office window shelf to bloom at home. The blooms became a steady quarantine companion, lasting from the end of March through early July!)
Refresh your sense of smell with either a scented candle, an essential oil diffuser, or both. I tend toward bright, citrusy scents for both candles and oils – and just a few minutes enjoying either can help reset my mood and improve my day.
Take advantage of the fact that for the first time in your career you aren’t waiting in line for the faculty restroom (or worse, jockeying for space in the one the kids use!) Take a minute in your bathroom to put on a fresh coat of lip gloss, apply a scented hand lotion, (or take 10 minutes and give yourself a Color Street manicure!).
It’s like staff appreciation for yourself – and you don’t have to share (unless, like me, your partner is also an educator, in which case, you really should save at least one to share). And as much as I miss sharing food with others, there are some definite benefits to pulling a loaf of banana bread out of the oven when I would typically be driving to school and to popping a batch of cookies in the oven instead of facing my afternoon commute.
This is a recipe I’ve worked on for months. It started early in quarantine, when some of our favorite treats, like Trader Joe’s chocolate mints, were hard to find on store shelves. I started tinkering with recipes to recreate them at home. I started with the mint patty recipe that was shared here. But similarly to my feelings about rolling “buckeyes,” I tired of rolling and dipping each one individually.
So I modified the recipe to something like my buckeye bites, but found the bottoms to be too sticky to be enjoyed easily. Next, I took a page from the early 80’s, when my mom first started making these double-frosted brownies, and layered them atop a molten brownie recipe, baked in muffin tins. Baking brownies in muffin tins is exceptionally helpful for portion control, plus it dramatically increases the coveted “edges” of each brownie batch. And when we are someday ready to share food again, they are perfectly shareable.
Until then, we’ll stick to sharing recipes. What’s your favorite teacher lounge treat?
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 3/4 cup brown sugar or 9 Tablespoons sugar and 3 Tablespoons molasses
- 1 1/3 cups sugar superfine if available
- ¾ cup 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1-2 tsp peppermint or mint extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Place the flour, cocoa, both the sugars, the butter, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
- Add the chocolate chips/chunks and stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Lightly grease a muffin tin.
- Divide the mixture evenly into the tin.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the brownie is set.
- Allow to cool before proceeding. Remove brownie bites from tin.
- Combine butter, honey, extract and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until ingredients are well combined and are holding together.
- Spread about 2-3 Tablespoons of mint topping on each brownie bite. Chill until set, about 20 minutes.
- Melt chocolate and coconut oil in microwave for about 1 minute, in 20 second intervals. Stir at each interval until fully melted.
- Pour chocolate topping over mint layer and chill until set.