Tips on Dealing with the Holiday Season at Work

The holiday season can be a very tricky time in the workplace. All those holiday parties, gift exchanges, feeding frenzies, and other holiday celebrations can get in the way of normal work activities, resulting in a significant loss of productivity. They can also make your colleagues who don’t observe the same holidays or celebrate them differently uncomfortable.

Don’t let all the festivities get in the way of regular business operations—most organizations can’t afford to take the month of December off. We should also respect our coworkers with whom we must share workspace for the other 11 months of the year. Here are 5 tips to help you deal with the holiday season at at work.jpeg

  1. Keep Holiday Gift Giving Reasonable

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, you may get the sweats thinking about buying gifts for your coworkers. Do you have to buy one for everyone? That can get very expensive. If you work with a lot of people, this can get way out of hand and cause financial problems.

Don’t break your budget or expect anyone else to break his or hers. Instead of buying a present for every one of your coworkers, consider starting a secret gift exchange, sometimes called a Secret Santa. Here’s how it works. Each person who wants to participate randomly chooses the name of another participant. Note, the magic words: wants to participate. Anyone who doesn’t want to take part should not be forced or shamed into doing it.

Once everyone has chosen another person, he or she should go out and buy something for him or her. For this to work well, you must set a price range for gifts, and everyone should stick to it. Don’t forget why this is called a secret. If you tell anyone whose name you got, it will no longer be one. It’s wise to get started on this early to give everyone enough time to go shopping!

Don’t gift up. If you want to buy your boss a gift, ask other co-workers to chip in and give a group gift. Don’t go solo on this one. If you are friends with your boss outside of work, than exchange your gifts outside of work.SONY DSC2. Keep Holiday Feeding Frenzies to a Minimum

Food is all over the place during the holidays. There’s no easy way to escape all the treats that seem to appear everywhere between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year—even in the workplace.

If you are trying to stick to a healthy diet, you will have your work cut out for you. Clients and vendors send goodies to the office. Coworkers love to share their favorite holiday foods. Self-control is a hard thing during the holidays! The average American puts on 7 lbs. during the holidays and I am sure a few of those pounds are gained in the office!


  1. Be Mindful of Your Workplace’s Holiday Culture

Some employers give their workers some leeway when it comes to celebrating the holidays during the workday. Others don’t care whether it’s December or September—work hours are for work only. Be mindful of your workplace’s holiday culture.

If it’s a new job, notice what your colleagues are doing. If they are pretty low-key when it comes to celebrating in the office, follow their lead. If you want to enjoy the holidays with them, consider getting together after work hours to share a holiday meal or exchange gifts.

  1. Respect Your Coworkers’ Religious Beliefs

Not everyone celebrates the same holidays, and even those who do may celebrate differently. Some people, for personal reasons, even choose not to celebrate at all.

Keep that in mind. Respect the wishes of your coworkers who prefer to abstain from the festivities. Encourage everyone to share their own holiday traditions.

work party

  1. Behave Properly at the Office Holiday Party

Have fun at the office holiday party, but don’t forget it is a work-related event. What happens at the office party, certainly won’t stay at the office party. Don’t do anything that will jeopardize your professional reputation.

Limit your alcohol consumption, don’t flirt, dress appropriately, and try to get to know your colleagues outside a work environment. It’s a good time to inquire about their vacation plans, outside interests, and families.

If your holiday party invitation includes a guest, remember their behavior reflects on you. Having a discussion with your guest about their behavior at your office party should be approached delicately. Make sure they understand your company culture and how everyone is expected to behave.


Most companies in America do celebrate the holidays and I hope these tips help you to navigate some of the possible land mines of the season. If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share!


Dealing with the December Dilemma

december dilemma

In recent years, some concerned citizens have expressed outrage with public schools promoting the religious aspects of Christmas, claiming they turn the classroom into a church. Others have expressed outrage with public schools acknowledging only the secular aspect of that holiday, without touching on the underlying reasons that it exists in the first place, especially in communities that examine the origins of other winter religious and cultural holidays, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Based on high-profile fights over the past several years, many schools have taken an entirely hands-off approach to the winter holidays. But that is not necessarily the right way to solve the “December Dilemma.”

The bottom line: Schools should be proactive in developing policies on addressing religious holidays before an issue arises. Not only will it ensure that schools meeting their First Amendment obligations, it will lead to a much less stressful December.

The ultimate solution will look different for each community, as often occurs in educational issues. But the end result will be the same: A December holiday season that is inclusive and educational.

Striking the Right Balance

How can educators ensure they are not overstepping their First Amendment bounds in addressing religious holidays? Plan each activity only after answering the question, “What is our educational purpose?”

If a lesson, or an assembly (as is often the case around the winter holidays), has a good educational purpose, it is on the right track. But as the First Amendment Center’s Religious Holidays in the Public Schools points out, “teachers [and other educators] must be alert to the distinction between teaching about religious holidays, which is permissible, and celebrating religious holidays, which is not.”

Look Beyond December

One way to relieve the pressure of December is to look beyond it, educating students about various religious holidays at various times of the year, where appropriate. For example, the first fasting of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan will fall in June or July for the next few years (this fasting occurs at the start of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar). Diwali, celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains, falls in late October or early November. While many schools acknowledge Hanukkah around the same time as Christmas, the major Jewish holiday Yom Kippur falls in September or October.


Quick Tips for Planning Religious Holidays in Public Schools

Before planning a religious holiday activity in a public school, ask the following questions:

  • Is this activity designed in any way to either promote or inhibit religion?
  • How does this activity serve the academic goals of the course, or the educational mission of the school?
  • Will any student or parent be made to feel like an outsider, not a full member of the community, by this activity?
  • If in December: Do we plan activities to teach about religious holidays at various times of the year or only in December?
  • Are we prepared to teach about the religious meaning of this holiday in a way that enriches students’ understanding of history and cultures?


Calendars of religious and ethnic holidays can be obtained from the following organizations:

National Conference for Community and Justice 71 5th Avenue New York, NY 10003
(212) 206-0006

Educational Extension Systems P.O. Box 259 Clarks Summit, PA 18411
(800) 447-8561


Teaching your students about different religions and their celebrations is ok, celebrating the holiday is not ok. Be inclusive of all religions and go beyond the holidays celebrated in December to ensure a successful year of religious and cultural education. With this approach to the holidays the December Dilemma will be resolved.



Active Sitting Benefits in Classroom and Workplace

exercise ball for seating in classroom or workplace

Research has shown that incorporating motion into the classroom (and the workplace) promotes creativity and learning. Students and adults need to move and this can help them feel active and alert, which in turn helps their learning and productivity.

Motion in the Classroom
In addition to incorporating physical activities into the classroom, Active Sitting is something that can be beneficial.

What is Active Sitting?
Active sitting, also known as dynamic sitting, is seating that naturally encourages us to stay in motion, rather than passively relaxing into a slouch or attempt to rigidly hold a “correct” pose.
One of the simplest examples of active seating is a “sitting donut,” which is a flat circular air filled rubber disk that can be placed on a chair or on the floor to encourage user movement. Rockers have become very popular. Exercise balls and activity bands hooked to traditional chair legs are also seen in many classrooms.
Students will find a way to move around regardless of the type of chair they’re sitting in. Because traditional school seating lacks the flexibility of active sitting, students often resort to creating their own movement by leaning the chair back on two legs and frequently shifting their position on the chair.
Forced movement such as this can lead to tight muscles, soreness or even physical injury.

How Active Seating Helps Students Focus
Movement, when channeled correctly, actually helps students focus. A 2008 research study found that children need to move while conducting a complicated mental task, according to a National Education Association article.
The study also found that “children, especially those with ADHD fidgeted more when a task required them to store and process information rather than just hold it. This is why students are often restless while doing math or reading, but not while watching a movie.”
Active seating is fidget-friendly, so, for children who squirm in their seats and can’t resist the impulse to move, it’s a way to channel their excess energy into constructive activities. Active seating acknowledges a child’s need to move, but at the same time, keeps them sitting still enough so that teachers and other students may continue lessons uninterrupted.
This is in contrast to forward-facing and rigid seating, which can result in poor attention, poor memory and ultimately, lower achievement scores. In turn, this has an impact on teachers, principals and administrators, who have to have to spend extra time and resources to keep these students engaged in class.

Activity in the Workplace

And of course all of the advantages of active sitting and physical motion during the day also applies to adults. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day really adds up. What’s worse is that research shows that regular, inactive sitting is the “new smoking” and may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes

Upgrade Your Office Chair
Dynamic chairs and balance balls, which put you on a less stable surface and require you to actively engage your muscles throughout the day, work to reverse the negative effects of sitting for too long. First, they have you sitting at a higher level than a typical office chair, and that increased hip angle demands more work from your core and allows your spine to sit in a more natural position. The unstable surface also engages more stabilizer muscles—just like when you use unstable surfaces while exercising. Check out dynamic chairs that are currently on the market for a comfy but challenging respite while you work.

Try Standing at Your Desk
Why not ditch your chair altogether? According to The Boston Globe, research shows an increase in mood and energy levels from those who stood during part of their work day. And although standing all day isn’t necessarily the answer for burning calories, it is a gateway to more activity throughout the day, and will likely lead to getting up to talk with a colleague rather than just calling or e-mailing them.

Want to sit sometimes? Try a Sit-to-Stand desk or convert your existing desk with a sit-to-stand adjustable desk riser. Both give you the option to sit or stand throughout the day.

Schedule Walking Intervals
The best way to practice active sitting is to take your workload on the move. Schedule in a short walking session every hour, or a longer walk a few times a day. After all, the 10,000-steps-per-day rule is hard to meet if you drive to work and don’t exercise every day. So whether you’re clearing your head or working on the go, short walks throughout the day can help you get in your daily steps. You may even find that you’re more productive when you return to sitting at your desk.

Both children and adults reap the benefits of active sitting and physical activity throughout the day. Start with these ideas and use your creativity to come up with ways to stay on the move during the day in school or at work.


Getting Funding for Your New Classroom

We all have big dreams for the things that we’d like to do in our schools.  Designing active learning spaces.  Creating makerspace environments.  Putting powerful technology into the hands of our students.

Unfortunately, our budgets aren’t always as big as our dreams.  The money is out there if you put in a little time and elbow grease to get it.

  1. Look for teacher grants.

Some popular grants include the Fund for Teachers program, Thank America’s Teachers from Farmer’s Insurance and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education. Trying to get funding for furniture items? Start with Stand Up Kids, an organization working to get every public school child a standing desk within the next 10 years as a way to combat sedentary lifestyles and inactivity. For other ways to get funding for furniture, look for words like “classroom supplies” or “innovative learning” where you can interpret it to meet your needs. For instance, this grant from NewSchools says they “invest in entrepreneurs and teams of educators whose bold ideas have the potential to help students reach their highest aspirations.” There’s been a lot of research about how classroom design and setup impacts learning, so don’t be afraid to go big! has a great list of grants.

  1. Look for niche grants.

Are you a math teacher? Science teacher? Oftentimes you can find grants by focusing on your subject area. For instance, the National Science Teachers Association lists grants specifically available for their members. Another one is the Toshiba grant, which targets science and math teachers for grades K–5. Grants for Teachers is a great site where you can search by grade, subject area, state and more!


  1. Work with your PTA.

If you have a special classroom or school request, be sure to talk with your PTA. They often have funds that are completely separate from the school or district, so they can use their own discretion on how to spend it. Attending a PTA meeting is the first step. Bring examples of what you’re looking for, along with the costs and a few different options. The PTA will want to discuss as a group and ask the teacher questions about why your request will benefit the classroom and the students.

  1. Go to your school board.

If you have an idea that will better your classroom and students, consider approaching your school board—with permission from your principal or supervisor, of course. Most school board members are easy to approach and welcome the chance to hear from teachers.

You can usually find the email addresses on the district website, or try contacting someone through social media.

Go to a board meeting just to get a feel for how they’re run, then prepare your case. For instance, if you want alternative seating, know what the research says and be prepared to prove the benefits.

  1. Find funding within your community.

Because companies like to give back to their own communities, it can help to look at local funding opportunities. You can look at the city level, like the rotary club or local government grants, or at companies based in your state. For example, Target has grants only for Minnesota schools because that’s where the company is headquartered. Insurance companies and banks also often invest heavily in local schools. Again, try the Grants for Teachers website for state-specific grants. You can also check with your local United Way—they will likely be able to point you in the right direction.

  1. Start small and raise funds yourself.

If you have an idea on how you want to give your classroom a makeover, think about raising the funds yourself to prove out the concept. Bake sale, anyone? This might be the jump-start you need to get additional funding. For example, if you’re trying to get stand-up desks or new technology like iPads, you might have to start with just one. Then document the impact it had on your class through videos, photos and overall numbers. This will help you develop a strong case when you’re trying to get money for grants and from companies.


  1. Online Contests. Look for online contests that provide money for classroom furniture. Example of a possible search: contests to win money for classroom furniture.


     8. Try crowdfunding.

In this day and age, there are plenty of ways to take fundraising online. The best-known option is Donors Choose, where you can post a project and solicit donations from acquaintances and strangers alike. Another crowdfunding source to check out You register your class online, add a few details and then wait for your classroom to get adopted.Hint: The more information and photos you can provide about your needs, the more likely you’ll get your request fulfilled.


If you have any other ideas please share! Happy fundraising to everyone who is taking on the project of finding funding for classroom furniture and equipment.


History of the Jack O’Lantern

jack o'lantern, lantern, halloween

The celebration of Halloween in America didn’t take off until waves of immigrants from Ireland and Scotland arrived in the mid-1800s. Pumpkins are native to North America, so while it’s not known exactly when the first pumpkin was carved and lit, the first mention of pumpkins jack o’lanterns comes at around the same time. In 1866, the children’s magazine “Harper’s Young People” reported that “a great sacrifice of pumpkins” had been made that for that year’s Halloween celebrations. Pumpkin carving grew more and more popular as the years went on. By the 1920s, Halloween had been embraced throughout the United States. Parties and costumes became the norm, and “trick or treating” soon followed in the 1950s.

  • The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.



People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.


Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the shores of the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns. (and an awesome pie)

According to legend our carved pumpkins in our home or on the porch ward off not only Stingy Jack, who now is known as Jack of the Lantern, but any evil spirit roaming your neighborhood.



Makerspaces on a Tight Budget


Even though it’s nice to dream of a makerspace with fancy gadgets and expensive technology, the truth is that you truly can start a makerspace with little or almost no budget. Here are 7 ways to create a Makerspace on a tight budget.

1. Spread the word
Tap into the community. Chances are, parents will be excited about innovation and hands-on experiences for their children, and they may have untapped resources they’d be willing to share with you. Maybe they’ll buy some of the things you want, or maybe they’ll suggest an alternative item that they would be willing to donate to your Makerspace. Or maybe they already have a lot of what you need and would be willing to loan or give it to your school or organization. Whatever the case, community support will go a long way in helping you procure the materials you need.

2. Look for – and ask for – donations
Legos, craft supplies, leftover construction materials, old and refurbished technology – there is so much out there that might be yours if you just ask the right people or advertise in the right spots. Keep your mind open to items you hadn’t considered. While you might not necessarily get a class set of iPads or tablets, you might find that someone has something else that could be just as beneficial to your students’ developing imaginations and your burgeoning Makerspace.

3. Utilize existing supplies and materials
Scavenge your school and the classrooms of your fellow teachers. Maybe the physics teachers have unused building sets, maybe the art teacher has supplies that they are willing to part with. Start small and gradually build up your reserves.

4. Take advantage of crowdfunding or teacher support sites
GoFundMe and Kickstarter are two popular crowdfunding sites, but for teachers there is truly no greater financial resource then At Donors Choose, teachers put up proposals and ideas for classroom supplies and activities, and benefactors choose the projects they wish to find, in part or in full. If you’re hoping to start a Makerspace, create a DonorsChoose project, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the funds you receive!

5. Recycle
Scavenge the items in your school that are going to be thrown away! Cardboard boxes are treasures for a Makerspace, and other items that may be perceived as garbage can be disassembled or repurposed by creative young imaginations.
Makerspaces are all about student exploration and creativity.

6. Start a Maker Club
Start a maker club to raise money for the project, engaging the campus and local community. Conduct a “tool drive” within your school or neighborhood, asking parents to donate tools. You wouldn’t believe how many extra tools people have in storage. While we’d like families to save some tools for making things together at home, many would be happy to donate their extra tools to schools.
Many teachers and students may try school club fundraising strategies on campus, such as hosting a “make-a-thon” or another type of “a-thon” (i.e., a pedal-a-thon with bicycle hacks).

7. Involve the Community
Search for civic organizations, societies and religious groups to bring the community into what the students are making in the schools. The local Rotary Club may not have heard of the Maker movement, but why not bring a mini Maker Faire to them? Maker clubs and teachers can showcase student work at a local Rotary meeting.

Get the students involved in thinking of ways to create a Makerspace. This can be the first project for the Makerspace curriculum. And while it might be nice to have fancy technology and expensive accessories, what it comes down to is nurturing student independence and fostering problem-solving skills. Don’t let a lack of funds prevent you or your school from investing in strategies that will benefit your students. It might be tough to find a way to achieve your goals of creating a Makerspace in your school or district, but it will be worth it in the end.

Helping Kids Deal with the Bad News on Television

kids coping with bad news on television

In the past few weeks, every time you turn on the TV or hop onto social media, it seems that all we see is devastation—hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, a huge earthquake in Mexico and now the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Bad news seems to be everywhere and constantly on the news.

How do we talk to children about all this bad news? To calm children’s fears about the news, parents should be prepared to deliver the truth, but only as much truth as a child needs to know. The key is to be honest and help kids feel safe. There’s no need to go into more details than your child is interested in.

Although it’s true that some things — like a natural disaster — can’t be controlled, parents should still give kids space to share their fears. Encourage them to talk openly about what scares them.

kids depressionTips for adults

The National Association of School Psychologists has a list of 15 tips for adults when talking to children about acts of war and terrorism. They are.

  • Model calm and control.
  • Reassure children they are safe and so are the important adults and other loved ones in their lives.
  • Remind them trustworthy people like emergency workers, police, firefighters and doctors are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies like this occur.
  • Let children know it is OK to feel upset.
  • Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious.
  • Stick to the facts. Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened.
  • Be careful not to stereotype people or countries that might be associated
    with the violence.
  • Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
  • Maintain a “normal” routine.
  • Monitor or restrict exposure to scenes of the event as well as the aftermath, particularly through social media.
  • Observe children’s emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally.
  • Be aware of children at greater risk of mental health problems or suicide.
  • Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help. Consider making get well cards or sending letters.
  • Keep lines of communication open between home and school.
  • Monitor your own stress level.

For more specific actions broken down into age groups follow these guidelines:

  • Under age 5—keep your kids away from this stress. Do not have the news blasting from every medium. In particular, keep the TV off. You can follow the news yourself more discreetly every few hours.
  • Between 5 and 10—and is asking about or talking about a disaster, be mindful of your tone of voice and choice of words. Keep your own emotions out of the equation, and in a calm tone of voice, say that natural disasters are unpredictable—you can use the word “surprising” for younger kids—but as scary as they are, friends, family, the community, and local and national governments all come together to help each other. Highlight the goodness of human nature and shift the conversation in a more positive direction. Address the feelings, acknowledge them, and then move to comfort. Be sure to give hugs, hold hands, and generally use the power of touch (it’ll do wonders for you as well).
  • A tween or teen—he or she is as exposed to the news on social media as you are. Feel free to enforce temporary digital boundaries if you feel their moods are being affected. Help them make good choices and monitor them—not in an intrusive way but by keeping an open dialogue going. Children in this age group are also less likely to express their emotions.
  • An adolescent or young adult—open up a dialogue with them. Once our kids are out of sight, we assume that they are grown up. But those who have recently left home or are in college may have fears like “what if this happens to me, while I’m away from home.” Discuss emergency plans with them, and if you don’t have an emergency plan, set one up! Unless you are in a danger zone, take a few days and chart out a plan first. More importantly, keep your finger off the panic button, so you don’t panic your kids who are away from home.

In the classroom, teachers may consider introducing meditation. See all the benefits and check out some apps for the classroom in the blog: Keep Your Classroom Healthy with Meditation.

school-meditationRegardless of your children’s age, there are positive actions you can take to uplift your family’s mood. Begin by helping others through the various donation hubs set up for a disaster. Ask your kids to contribute from their own allowance, even as little as a dollar. The best way to express compassion is by being compassionate.



Choosing Appropriate Chair Sizes for Students

classroom chair sizes

Children are more likely to pay attention and are more open to learning if they are comfortable during class. You can positively influence the overall learning environment in your classroom by choosing chairs that are the right size for the children in your care. Figuring this out can be confusing and a little frustrating, which is why we found some simple guidelines for you to remember as you choose chairs for your classroom.


How to Choose the Appropriate Chair Size for Students

Chairs are available in a variety of sizes, designs, materials, and finishes. Be sure to pick chairs that will be comfortable for children to sit in while also complementing the other furniture in your classroom. A general rule to remember when you’re trying to determine a suitable chair size is that children’s feet should be able to touch the floor when they sit back in the chairs.

Appropriate chair seat height is often based on children’s age, but you should also research any state licensing or accreditation requirements on chair size you may have to meet. You can use the chart at the bottom of the page to help you choose comfortable chairs for the age group in your care.

School Chair Seat Height by Grade Level
5″ – 8″
seat height
9″ – 11.5″
seat height
12″ – 13″
seat height
13.5″ – 14″
seat height
15.5″ – 16″
seat height
17.5″ – 18″
seat height
Preschool (Ages 1-2) 75% 25%
Preschool (Ages 3-5) 75% 25%
Kindergarten 75% 25%
Grade 1 25% 75%
Grade 2 75% 25%
Grade 3 25% 75%
Grade 4 75% 25%
Grade 5 25% 75%
Grade 6 – Adult 100%
kids different sizes
Kids come in all different sizes!

Remember that these guidelines won’t necessarily work in every situation, because there is no one size fits all for classroom furniture. This is an especially true statement for tables and chairs because children are a variety of sizes and heights at any age. Be sure to contact us with any questions you may have, Andy or Lisa will be more than happy to help you with your classroom chair needs.

Tips on Setting up Your Home Office

work from home, home office, setting up home office

Working from the comfort of your own home may sound like a dream. But if you don’t have all the right elements for your home office, it can have a detrimental effect on your productivity and even your health and happiness.

No two home offices are the same. But regardless of the size and layout of your space, there are some elements that can help make it a more productive space. Here are some of the most important elements.

1. Location, location, location. You’ll likely spend many hours in your home office, so don’t stiff yourself on space (e.g. squishing a tiny desk into a windowless closet to preserve the rarely-used guest room). Also consider traffic flow and your ability to withstand distractions. Do you work best in the thick of activity, or should your office be tucked away in a quiet space? If clients will be stopping by, a private space with ample seating is a must.

2. Invest in a great chair. You spend hours parked in your office chair; a beautiful, ergonomically-correct, comfortable seat is worth every dime.

3. Get an Adjustable Desk. Consider getting a height adjustable table so that you can either sit or stand through out the day. If a new desk is too much for you budget, consider a product like the OFM Height Adjustable Desktop Riser.

4. Desk Location. Consider moving the desk off the wall. Give yourself a good view!

5. Good lighting is essential. Ideally you want as much natural daylight as possible. If your space has a window, it will enhance the lighting. Daylight is the most evenly balanced source of white light available, in that sunlight has an approximately equal proportion of each color of the spectrum. This light, however, never has a constant color and its beauty comes from the way it is reflected and from the way it is refracted by the earth (as in differing times of day). The color of natural light also differs based on geographic location. It is always beneficial to have as much natural light as possible in the working area.

If no daylight is available, a combination of general and task lighting will be required. A high-quality task light will be essential for late nights or cloudy days. If your home office is in a basement or a room without windows, check out daylight-replicating light sources that will provide energy-efficient, full-spectrum lighting. Many ergonomic task-lighting fixtures have dimmer switches so you can control the amount of light.

6. Add Plants. Adding a touch of green to your work space carries proven wellness benefits, from boosting productivity to purifying the air.

50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. This number is projected to increase over the next 10 years. So, even if you aren’t telecommuting now, you may be in the future! These tips will help the telework community be more productive and happy!

All of the furniture mentioned in this link can be ordered from NextGen Furniture at great prices.

Keep Your Classroom Healthy with Meditation!

School just started and the flu season is quickly approaching. So every year, you keep your classroom clean, you teach hygiene, encourage healthy eating and exercise, but have you tried meditation?

Meditation isn’t just for our mental health! A healthy, relaxed mind can help the body fight off infection. It just might help keep the flu at bay. In my scientific research, of one (me!), since I began meditating about 3 years ago, I have not had a cold once. Meditating gets my vote for mental and physical health!

From WebMd: Immune Booster: Meditation also helps ward off illness and infections. In one study testing immune function, flu shots were given to volunteers who had meditated for eight weeks and to people who didn’t meditate. Blood tests taken later showed the meditation group had higher levels of antibodies produced against the flu virus, according to the study in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Many teachers are bringing mediation into the classroom and having great results (in addition to the immune booster factor). Read how mediation helped one middle school classroom. In this classroom, Smiling Mind app was used. Here is a list of other apps available specifically for the classroom.

I would love to hear about experiences other educators have had with meditation in the classroom! Let us know if it helped keep you and your kids healthy.