Educators spend a lot of time at their desks: grading papers, lesson planning, printing, or doing office hours. Unfortunately, most teacher work spaces aren't ergo-savvy. The result is that once planning and classes are finished, your work space has taken its toll on your body: from you neck and shoulders, to your back, all the way to your wrists and hands. Many educators feel this stress throughout their bodies and even develop repetitive stress injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you're on of those teachers, check out these ergonomic tips and solutions so you can decrease stress and stress-related injuries, while also increasing productivity.
A few work space tips for educators
Look at your work space design. Is it set up for ergonomic comfort and ease of work? Consider the following factors:
- Your neck feels tight because you strain to see your monitor, which should be at eye level.
- Your keyboard and mouse should be on the same surface as each other, but not on the same surface as your monitor (the exception being if you raise it). Additionally, your mouse should be next to keyboard (not far away from it or in front of it)
- Your body should always feel relaxed and positioned neutrally . You should never cock your wrists or have to angle them to type or reach the mouse (see above for keyboard and mouse placement).
- Your feet should rest comfortably and flat on the floor. This is usually an issue of a poorly positioned desk and chair.
Bottom line- you should not have to overextend your reach to get to anything!
Ergonomic solutions for comfort and productivity
Just rethinking your work set-up can help you be more comfortable and even more productive. Try a few of the following solutions to resolve your ergo issues.
- To get the very best ergonomic advantage, many workers and educators alike use an ergonomic desk and/or chair that facilitates easy and comfortable reach of all essential items, while still providing the structure and support you need. Adjust-ability is key here. Being able to raise and/or lower your chair and desk will enable you to get the best position for your body so that it can be relaxed and neutral. Even adding back support to your current chair will ease back discomfort.
- If an gonomic desk is not in the budget, try redesigning the space you have. One of the best things you can do is get your keyboard and mouse lined up correctly. You can use a left-handed keyboard (which puts the rarely-used number pad on the left) or even a mini keyboard to free up some space to allow you to pull your mouse in closer.
- A wrist rest is a simple and affordable solution for wrist or forearm discomfort, which allows you to type in a neutral position by resting your palms at the same time, thus alleviating strain on the actual wrists.
- White noise generators create peace and quiet during office hours or a planning period (or even when giving a quiz, test, or exam). White noise generators (aka sound machines) provide a low-level hum so that you can tune out otherwise distracting noises and just feel more relaxed. The result is less stress and increased productivity.