* Z is for zinc

medical-681119_640Blogging A-Z: Z is for zinc.  And all the other supplements that teachers use in an effort to stay healthy.  It’s a battlefield out there, especially for teachers working with younger kids who routinely slime their teachers and classmates.  Zinc, vitamin C, echinacea, astralagus, and licorice are favorites.  Some teachers absolutely swear by certain herbs and their arguments are quite compelling if they seem to resist every “bug” making its rounds.  One teacher comes to mind; I think she had iron guts.  At her suggestion, I tried some kind of mushroom which reduced me to a sliver of myself.  My doctor thought it quite an amusing “cure.”

Antibacterial wipes and cleansers are ubiquitous in most classrooms, far surpassing supplements like zinc in their widespread use.  Take a look at teacher supply lists and watch the frenzied after-school scrubbing.  Those invisible microbes are the enemy!  I use alcohol wipes on pencils and computer keyboards, along with door knobs and the edges of tables.  Did you know that table edges get incredibly gross over time if you’re not vigilant?

A third important strategy is to teach kids to cover their cough.  There are two important components of that instruction: coughing into an arm AND turning away.  It did me no good when a kid coughed past his elbow into my face.  I’d also like to teach “cover your cough” to many adults.  How many times have I seen a teacher cough into her hand and then offer me a pencil or tissue with that same hand?  Yuck!  I’m not a germaphobe (perhaps), but that makes me cringe.

After listening to me complain endlessly about being slimed at school, my husband suggested that I wear a mask.  I have had to do that on occasion when teaching a medically fragile student.  “Teaching while masked” is an oxymoron.  First, my glasses turn foggy with every breath.  And there is no way to effectively communicate that wide range of subtle (and not-so-subtle) teacher expressions when your face is covered up.  The mask also makes my soft voice even more muffled, so I might as well stay home.

How do you stay healthy when “bugs” are rampant?  I have some zinc and mushrooms to share, if you’re interested.

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