Daily Prompt: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Another uneventful day  in my cubicle and I could easily nod off for a short nap and no one would even notice. However, I am not tired enough to fall asleep. So, here’s my take on today’s daily prompt from the Daily Post.

My cat loves to sleep on the sofa with a comforter as his pillow.

My cat loves to sleep on the sofa with a comforter as his pillow.

Many people complain about not being able to sleep or not getting enough sleep because of work schedules, family obligations, household chores, and the list could go on.  If anything, I may get too much sleep. The general recommended amount of sleep for an adult to maintain a healthy mind and body is between 7.5 and 9 hours.

Living in Oman, with few entertainment options, stifling heat for six months of the year, I often find myself hitting the sack early because I have nothing to do in the evening. I am usually fast asleep by 9 o’clock and I don’t lift my head from my pillow until 5 or 6 the next morning – a full 8 or 9 hours.

I wake up relaxed, well-rested and energetic after a good sleep. I start my day with a morning run, yoga or some stretching, followed by a healthy breakfast and tea. Then I try to stay busy the rest of the day so that my mind and body are tired enough, so that I can easily fall asleep as soon as I go to bed. I believe an active body and mind helps to ensure a solid sleep without any distractions.

As for dreams, I never remember the details, which probably indicates that they are not exciting or dramatic enough to disturb my sleep.

If you are having trouble dozing off after a long day here are some tips:

1) Close the curtains and turn off the lights. Light tells the brain that it is not time to sleep yet, so a dark room makes it easier to sleep.

2) Follow a routine by going to bed around the same time every night and getting up at the same time the following morning. This helps condition your sleep and wake patterns, so you fall asleep faster and get adequate sleep.

3) Avoid caffeine drinks such as tea, coffee or soda in the late afternoon if you want to sleep well.

4) Become more active during the day. If your body is physically or mentally tired then it is easier to fall asleep quicker and rest better.

5) Don’t eat or do exercises before going to bed. Your body needs time to digest food and calm down or relax after exercise.

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Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught

Here is my take on yesterday’s daily prompt from the Daily Post.

What makes a teacher great? Almost everyone you ask will have a different answer for this question. It is difficult to pin point the exact characteristics that make a  teacher great. If people could agree on this then there would be more great teachers. Teaching is a demanding profession that requires dedication, hard work, passion and a commitment to students. Many people can become good teachers but it is much more difficult to move into the category of a great teacher. However, there are five characteristics that are found in good teachers.

Communication – It is essential to communicate your ideas clearly and explain the tasks so that students understand. This requires thinking about what you want your students to do and the means to do it. And it also requires that you listen to your students and understand the difference between what they say and what they mean. If you can relate your vision to your students then everyone will be working towards the same goal.

Patience – It is necessary to deal with misfortune, difficulty, and annoyances without complaining, losing one’s temper or showing irritation. Good teachers are understanding and patient with their students. No matter how many mistakes students make or how many times they need to explain the same thing they do it with enthusiasm. The great thing about teaching in Oman is I get to practice this every single day.

Empathy – Good teachers recognize the value, importance and ability of each student. To have empathy you have to understand your students and their perspective. All students learn differently and in order to completely empathize with them you need to put yourself in their seats. I teach EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Oman. English grammar and spelling rules that seem simple and straightforward to me offer many challenges for Arab speakers. They thrive in an oral culture; they love to chat, but many students struggle with the written language. In fact, many of them dislike writing. So, when I select writing topics for my class I ask myself one question. Can I do this in German? This has helped me to select more appropriate topics for my students because if I can’t do it in a second language then I shouldn’t expect them to do it.

Positive Attitude – Good teachers maintain a positive attitude even on tough days. Teachers have to be flexible and ready for schedule changes, discipline issues, challenging material, unmotivated students, demanding supervisors or complaining colleagues. There are days when everything goes wrong and teachers who can perform on these days are the ones who can make a positive impact on learners.

Teach by doing – It is not enough to explain new ideas or concepts. Good teachers demonstrate by bringing examples into the classroom. They draw pictures or diagrams and find other creative ways to share knowledge and facilitate learning. They encourage their students to take risks, accept mistakes and push them to overcome setbacks.

Lastly, I would like to be a good teacher and I constantly strive to improve and learn from my colleagues, supervisors and most importantly from my students. However, in all honesty, teaching is a job and not a passion for me. Thus, I will never be a great teacher.