Teachers in Transition

Teachers in Transition Episode190 - Exercise, Music, and AI – Oh My!

February 17, 2024 Vanessa Jackson Episode 190
Teachers in Transition Episode190 - Exercise, Music, and AI – Oh My!
Teachers in Transition
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Teachers in Transition
Teachers in Transition Episode190 - Exercise, Music, and AI – Oh My!
Feb 17, 2024 Episode 190
Vanessa Jackson

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, Vanessa details the importance of exercise in combatting stress, shares benefits of exercise, and some tips to sneak it into your day.  We also talk about using music in classroom management, complete with a couple of short samples!  Finally, we wrap with talking about using AI in our job hunt.  We learn about making good prompts and how to strategically use AI to save time when customizing resumes and researching companies where we might like to work.
Fun video of Pizza Brad vs. Very Fit Craig 

And remember to send your comments, stories, and random thoughts to me at TeachersinTransitionCoaching@gmail.com!  I look forward to reading them.

The transcript of this podcast can be found on the at Buzzsprout. 

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode, Vanessa details the importance of exercise in combatting stress, shares benefits of exercise, and some tips to sneak it into your day.  We also talk about using music in classroom management, complete with a couple of short samples!  Finally, we wrap with talking about using AI in our job hunt.  We learn about making good prompts and how to strategically use AI to save time when customizing resumes and researching companies where we might like to work.
Fun video of Pizza Brad vs. Very Fit Craig 

And remember to send your comments, stories, and random thoughts to me at TeachersinTransitionCoaching@gmail.com!  I look forward to reading them.

The transcript of this podcast can be found on the at Buzzsprout. 

Are you a teacher who is feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? do you worry that you're feeling symptoms of burnout - or are you sure you've already gotten there? Have you started to dream of doing something different or a new job or perhaps pursuing an entirely different career - but you don't know what else you're qualified to do? You don't know how to start a job search and you just feel stuck. if that sounds like you, I promise you are not alone. my name is Vanessa Jackson; and I am a career transition and job search coach and I specialize in helping burnt out teachers just like you deal with the overwhelmingly stressful nature of your day-to-day job and to consider what other careers might be out there waiting for you. You might ask yourself, What tools do I need to find a new career?  Are my skills valuable outside the classroom?  How and where do I even get started?  These are all questions you deserve answers to, and I can help you find them.  I’m Vanessa Jackson. Come and join me for Teachers in Transition.  

***Hi!  And Welcome back to another episode of Teachers in Transition. I am your host, Vanessa Jackson – and I am here to help you reach your goals in starting to take steps to leave education and give you that extra assistance in reaching your goals. I provide tips and suggestions to help with stress and mental health, hacks to help your day, and job hunting tips. Today we are going to talk about exercise and its role in stress management, using music to tame the classroom, and using AI in your job hunt!  Thank you so much for listening today!  

In our first segment about stress management and health, we are going to talk about using exercise to combat stress and improve our mental health, how to use music as a tool in our classroom management, and we’ll touch on AI in our jobhunting tip today. I want to thank those of you who attended the Resume Workshop, we will definitely be doing that again in a few months, so be on the lookout for that. 

Exercise is such a powerful, way to combat stress.  We all know this.  And almost all of us (if not all of us) sit exhausted listening to me say this and ask “how on EARTH am I going to find the time and energy to exercise.”   Some of you may have said or thought the ‘not safe for work’ version of that comment.  
 But it’s true.  Some of the immediate benefits of exercise are: 

1.     Exercise creates Endorphins.  

2.    Better Cardio Vascular health 

3.    Your sleep quality and your ability to go to sleep improve

4.    it is a sort of armor to help fight anxiety

5.    it lowers blood pressure


Let’s break these down a little bit:
 Endorphins.  As Elle Woods so aptly said in Legally Blond when explaining why her Sorority Sister/Exercise Guru friend Brooke simply couldn’t have murdered her husband:
“I just don't think that Brooke could've done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't

Better Cardio Vascular health  - Exercise is good for your heart. One of the reasons this is necessary is because teaching breaks our hearts on such a regular basis.  The heart is a muscle and the more the muscle is worked, the more it can withstand. 

Sleep Quality - Exercise helps regulate your body's internal clock. A consistent  exercise routine makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up when you want. it also regulates body temperature because temperature go up when you exercise and the lowering of body temperature signals the brain to want to sleep. And it helps combat insomnia  by helping to reset the sleep-wake cycle to provide a more consistent and more restorative sleep pattern.

Combat Anxiety - it isn't just that exercise helps produce endorphins, it also acts a mood elevator and a natural painkiller. It helps calm the mind. Exercise helps extend excess energy that builds up, and getting rid of that can reduce anxiety.  

Lowers Blood Pressure - exercise dilates your blood vessels including arteries which reduces what is called peripheral resistance. That’s the force that the blood encounters when it flows through the arteries. A lower peripheral resistance means less arterial pressure. Less pressure means lower blood pressure.  Vigorous exercise can help reset your sympathetic nervous system – that’s the part responsible for your fight or flight response - which also causes blood vessels to relax and dilate.


And when you exercise for longer periods of time on a consistent basis, you get all of those benefits plus:

1.   Better Body Composition

2.   Better Blood Sugar maintenance 

3.   Better metabolism

4.   And yes, stress reduction. 

Body Composition: you will see a change in your body composition. It doesn't necessarily mean you're going to lose weight. If you are eating poorly there's no way to exercise off a bad diet. There is this fun video that I will put a link to in the show notes where you see a Very Fit Craig is running at top speed on a treadmill and he is trying to burn calories as fast as he can whereas his friend, Brad, is standing next to him consuming pizza and they're tallying the calories. Spoiler alert: the pizza guy consumes way more calories in the same amount of time that the runner runs.  Exercise as THE way to lose weight sets a person up for failure because it doesn’t work like that.   What I find is that starting with exercise can help bring your heart and your soul to a place where you can handle your brain telling you that you don’t really want that bag of oreos after a bad day of work.

Better Blood Sugar Maintenance: Insulin resistance is endemic in America.  According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 11.6% of the US population is diabetic.  38% is Prediabetic.  And it gets worse as people age.  Their report shows that 48.8% of people over 65 have Prediabetes.  Those numbers are horrifying.  If you look at a crowd, 1 in ten has diabetes.  4 in ten have prediabetes. We’ve all heard that exercise helps this, but let me dig into my nutrition training and explain a little more. Exercise pulls glucose from your bloodstream.  which INCREASES insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity, to oversimplify it a bit, it where everything starts to go downhill. If you are not sensitive to insulin, you are insulin resistant, and insulin resistance leads to fat storage, prediabetes and more.  Exercise also prevents the liver from releasing more glucose into your system. If you are prediabetic, exercise might take you out of that range when combined with a good diet that you can maintain.  If you are diabetic, exercise can help you manage it.  Always talk to a doctor when embarking on serious exercise. 
 Better Metabolism – with better blood sugar maintenance, you get better metabolism – where your body is more efficient at processing food.  While you are increasing your caloric need with exercise, the body is also burning more of them.
 You’ll notice that all these things seem very intertwined with each other. They are.  And altogether, they lead you to Stress Reduction.  I wouldn’t have survived my last year of teaching without my exercise routine. I look back and I still can’t believe I was able to do that.  I would get up, throw on my exercise pants, and head to the garage where we have a little home gym and engage in a short high intensity interval training workout. Then at 5:30, I’d take my dog on a walk around the block wearing a headlamp so I could be on the lookout for critters. I also wore a reflective roadguard vest.  Safety first, people.  At that point in my life, I felt the need to do my workout in the morning because things were so unpredictable that I just couldn’t trust my afternoons – also, my son was in high school band.  Different things work for different people, and you might have to experiment with a few things to find your perfect time of day and your perfect exercise.  I am pretty sure that I have mentioned before that I really like shadow boxing and hitting the heavy bag.  I found that very therapeutic. 

In order to successfully add exercise into your day, you will have to make it as convenient as possible.  Unfortunately, we humans are very good at talking ourselves out of things.  And if something is the least little bit inconvenient, we just won’t.  Some suggestions to keeping it convenient include: 

1.   Keep your workout clothes nearby and easy to grab.  When working out at zero dark thirty, I figured out that my biggest inconvenience was the sports bra.  I solved that little problem by sleeping in a clean one with a clean workout shirt.   

2.   If you prefer to go to a gym, then consider the one closest to your house.  Unless you are SERIOUSLY motivated and unless you have found a gym that feels more like a home, then you need the convenience of having to walk or drive past it on your way home.  After a hard day, it is that much harder to go in a direction that isn’t towards home. 

3.   Find a time that works best for you. I’d always read that morning exercise was best because of how it set you up for your day.  But if you absolutely cannot make it work in the morning, then afternoon exercise is absolutely better than no exercise.  A short workout is better than no workout.  Anything is better than nothing. 

4.   Consider increasing your NEAT exercise. Neat stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.  In a nutshell, it is your body burning calories when you aren’t officially exercising. People who cannot sit still and are constantly moving while in their seat are expending more NEAT than those with the ability to sit still.  Parking at the back of the lot increases NEAT.  And if you tell yourself you don’t care where you park, you also eliminate a lot of the stress associated with other people in the parking lot.  Chewing gum is a way to expend NEAT, but likely isn’t allowed on your campus. Look for ways to increase your daily NEAT.  

5.   Find little stretches that you can work into your day.  Gotta watch kids taking a test?  You can lean over a counter or lectern a little and get a nice hamstring stretch in.   While sitting in a boring meeting, put one ankle on the other knee in a Figure Four sort of pattern and tip the pelvic bowl forward and stretch that IT band a little.  That one makes it look as if you are paying more attention which always goes over well. I would take advantage my doorway and while keeping elbows bent at 90 degrees and my palms on the doorframe, Iean into the room or the hall (depends on which way I needed to face.) This allowed me to stretch my upper chest area – the Pectoralis muscles and the front shoulder muscles. 

6.   Experiment with different exercises to find what works for you.  There are so many options out there that I just can’t go over them all here in this time frame, but truly the options exist. You might like Yoga, Swimming, Group Exercise, solo exercise, low impact, high impact, time-bound activities or activities that have no schedule at all. I’d suggest that you write out anything that seems interesting to you and go on a strategic system of tapping in the free trials many places offer to see what works best for you.  If you don’t like it, or if it isn’t convenient, you won’t go. 

Some bonus thoughts for your consideration:   
 1.  If you have a dog, you can take your dog for walks and they will think you’re just the best thing ever.  They will enthusiastically join you on walks.   According to my dogs, the correct number of walks they should receive in a day is X +1 with X being the number of walks they have already had! 

2.  When you exercise, you get that little ping of pride that you accomplished something in your day. I have heard the same thing said about making one’s bed. Except making the bed doesn’t have the same number of collateral benefits as exercise does. 

Start with a simple challenge for one week – how can you sneak some NEAT exercise into your day, every day. I’d love to hear what you did for YOU, so feel free to email me – my email is at the end of the podcast AND in the show notes – to let me know how you were able to Sneak some NEAT in. 
 Our next segment is our teacher hack, which is designed to help you save time and brain space so that you can spend it on you - whether you're upskilling for a new career or applying to jobs, these hacks help you keep your sanity.  Today’s hack works best when you are around smaller children – whether teaching them or parenting them - And it is to tap into the power of music to build routines.  
I could probably have a whole separate podcast about music.  I am a very big advocate for music education because I have seen first hand what positive things it does for learners. I spent most of my career teaching music via band, orchestra, and even a little choir.  Music is powerful.  Think of the ways it cues us.  It only takes a few people to start a stomp-stomp-clap and before long, an entire sports venue is participating to We will, We will, Rock you.

 My daughter learned the days of the week set to the tune of Oh My Darlin’ Clementine.  
 And as much as Barney the purple dinosaur is the brunt of many jokes, the Clean Up song from his show is legendary.   I’ve even been known to break into that little tune to cue middle school kids that it’s time to, well, clean up and finish up.  They either groan or they join in, but they start cleaning. 

And the reason we can all still hear that song in our head is that for whatever reason, the part of the brain that stores our music lyrics is works better than any other area. Certainly it isn’t the part of the brain that stores where my keys are at any given time… But I digress.. 
 I hear from teachers and read in forums on social media that students in classrooms today are wilder than ever. Music can help. It can. A quick tune after coming back from lunch can literally set the tone for the classwork that comes after. Take this offering, and I’ll apologize in advance for the singing! To the tune of Frere Jacque
 Lunch is Over, Lunch is Over
 Find my spot.  Sitting down. 
 Getting out my pencil, Putting on good attitude  
 Time to Learn.  Time to Learn.

And OK, I’ll acknowledge that’s goofy as all get out, but that’s what I came up with just on the spot.  
 And Here’s another one to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad: 
 “I’ve been walking in a straight line.  On my way to __________Whereever they’re heading. 
 I’ve been walking in my straight line, with my hands kept to myself. 
 Got my finger on my lips so I don’t make much noise 
 We’re the best class in the hallway, Ms. Jackson’s class is awesome! 

(laughs) sorry about that!

I recently saw a couple of TikTok videos where a math teacher was using Taylor Swift songs to teach things like order of operations – which might be a great way to reach older kids. 

 So - Use Music.  Do you already do something similar to this? Do you have a little tune you’d want to share? Do you need help adapting lyrics to children’s tunes? If you need help coming up with lyrics, reach out and ask.  My strangest superpower is to make lyrics work to other songs. 

in our job hunting segment today, I want to spend a few moments talking about the wild job market that we are in right now and why it is more important than ever to have a solid plan when job hunting. 
 You’ve heard me - and others - say before that there are often hundreds or thousands of applications for most jobs these days, meanwhile companies complain that they can’t find workers.   I might argue that it’s like the teacher shortage.  There isn’t a teacher shortage – there is a shortage of people willing to be treated like that for that amount of money.  Companies get all these applications, and they are convinced that their shiny unicorn of an applicant is in there somewhere 

There is more than one dichotomy out there in play right now.  Everywhere you look, unemployment is down, but people are unemployed or severely underemployed also in record numbers. Houses are unaffordable but somehow still in short supply. We’re not in a recession, but how many people do you know who are way worse off than they were a year or two ago. 

AI is THE big wild card right now.  It is revolutionizing things across fields and disciplines, but we’re not quite sure where it’s all going to sort out, and we haven’t see the end of the turmoil.  Absolutely some jobs will be lost, but others will emerge. We’re just not sure exactly what is coming.  That’s not a bad thing.  I remember my grandmother, born in 1929, talking about how she REALLY wanted to be a telephone operator when she was young because it seemed really glamorous.  For those not in the know, a telephone operator was a live human would physically connect one caller to another by moving plugins around on a board.  I am not really sure how that works, but certainly that job no longer exists.  But others do.   A ringing truth is that those people who learn to use AI as a tool will be ahead of those who know nothing about it or are afraid of it.  Taking a course or two in AI can give you an opportunity to be more valuable than candidates who aren’t as well versed.
 For job hunting, though - AI is a powerful tool in your job hunt.  

But wait, Vanessa! I’ve read AI articles and seen those wonky AI pictures.  No WAY I want my resume to sound like that!  Well…remember it’s a TOOL.  Just like a screwdriver is a tool.  And while you can get a screwdriver to do a lot of things outside its regular job description (anyone else ever use the handle like a little hammer?), it is not the only tool one would use to build something meaningful. 
 So how does this work? It is helpful to have an account with ChatGpt.  Don’t use your school account.

First up: ChatGPT is the epitome of the old saying Garbage In – Garbage Out from the early days of computer programming.  If you put junk in, you get junk out, ChatGPT needs good prompts, good prompts include: Context, the Task, Instructions and Refinement  
 You start by giving ChatGPT a prompt along the lines of
 “Here is the job description and my resume.  Tailor the resume to the job description.  Provide a first pass so I can copy and paste the document. “

In that you see the Context, the task, and the instructions. 

 Next, You take the job description that you are interested in and copy it in.  You have your Everything Resume handy and you paste that in as well.  

 Then refine the results so that it sounds like you. 

I tend to use the word “please” in a lot of my prompts.  (laughs) I am not sure why – maybe it’s my Southern upbringing, maybe it’s my deep love of Science Fiction that tells me that just in case sentience occurs, I don’t want them thinking I’m too much of a threat, You know… Just know that if you find yourself using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ with ChatGPT that you aren’t the only one! 
 You may have seen the new AI on LinkedIn – that’s been fun.  It analyzes the job description and your LinkedIn Profile to see if you’re a good match.  You can also ask it what you would need to better position yourself for a job like that.  You can use those suggestions in finding courses for upskilling. 

And you can use the interactive AI in Bing when looking to learn about the company.  You simply prompt Bing to tell you things about the company to help you learn what is going on, who is in charge, and what challenges they are having or what initiatives they have going on.  You can learn if they’ve had recent layoffs or mergers.  This can be useful when writing your cover letter or when reaching out to talk to someone in the company when making that personal connection.  In a future episode, we’ll talk about using AI for interview prep!

 I want to thank everyone for listening today and enduring my goofy songs. If you like this podcast, please share it with a friend or colleague. Or if an episode seems to really apply to something you’re reading in Reddit, Facebook, or other social media, share it there. Recommendations are the single biggest way to help grow a podcast, and reviews are the next! It really does help a lot!  Also, I want to encourage you to join our Facebook group! The Teachers in Transition Podcast Club is a place for teachers who are burnt out and overwhelmed and possibly or definitely looking to leave teaching - share tips, get ideas, and find support. It’s new, so you won’t get as lost as sometimes happens with the big groups. You can talk with teachers who have left teaching. Just search for Teachers in Transition Podcast Club and answer the quick questions so we know you are a live human. 

If you are stuck in your job search, or are having trouble getting started, please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary discovery call to see how I can help you pivot careers and find the job of your dreams. 

That’s the podcast for today! If you liked this podcast, tell a friend, and don’t forget to rate and review wherever you listen to your podcasts. Tune in weekly to Teachers in Transition where we discuss Job Search strategies as well as stress management techniques. And I want to hear from you!  Please reach out and leave me a message at Teacher in transition coaching at gmail dot com.  You can also leave a voicemail or text at 512-640-9099. 

I’ll see you here again next week and remember – YOU are amazing!