California Educator

February 2016

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Tax Break for Teachers The average U.S. teacher spends about $500 of their own money on classroom supplies each year, and one in 10 says they spend more than $1,000 each year, according to the National School Sup- ply and Equipment Association. You can recoup some of your costs from Uncle Sam, now that Congress — at the urging of NEA and other education advocates — has voted to permanently extend the Educator Expense Deduction. This tax benefit allows K-12 teachers to take an "above the line" (non-itemized) deduction for unreimbursed classroom expenses, with the $250 yearly maximum indexed to inflation start- ing in 2016 (meaning the 2015 tax year). The tax break also expands the list of deductible items to include professional development expenses. NEA Member Benefits urges educators to keep receipts or a careful log for this deduction and other tax benefits. For additional insights from NEA Member Benefits on educators and their taxes, see Topics include: • Income from outside work such as a summer job or tutoring • Other unreimbursed employment expenses • Continuing education Sleep Problems — Solved Educators are among the most sleep-de- prived workers in America, along with pilots and physicians. A survey conducted by Ball State University researchers found 43 percent of teachers sleep on average only 6 hours or less each night. And 64 percent say they feel drowsy the next day. Getting enough zzzz's is critical to main- tain good health and effectively educate students. Here are common sleep problems facing educators, and potential solutions, courtesy of NEA Member Benefits: Problem: You have trouble turning off your brain and falling asleep. Solution: Don't use bedtime as a time to stress about the coming day or week. Instead, experts suggest scheduling "worry time" during the day, and then turning your attention to something visual (and calming) that doesn't involve thoughts or words. Problem: You fall asleep, but within minutes or hours, you're tossing and turning all night long. Solution: Establish a relaxing bedtime routine — anything from a warm bath to meditating — and make your bedroom a work-free zone (no grading papers in bed!). Experts advise not to eat late in the day or consume caffeine aer noon. Turn off the computer, cellphone and television at least an hour before turning in. Problem: You seem to sleep through the night, but you're still dragging the next day. Solution: Try to pinpoint what's causing the problem (uncomfortable mattress? stiff sheets?), and in the interim, go for brisk walks outdoors: Sunlight suppresses the body's release of the sleep hormone mel- atonin. Plus, fresh air helps you stay awake and energized. If you're suffering from persistent sleep problems, visit your doctor to check if there's a medical issue, such as sleep apnea. For more sleep tips, see 14 YOUR WHOLE LIFE Tips and trends for a smarter, healthier you

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