By Teachers, For Teachers
When you first started teaching, you may have gotten some advice to stay clear of the teachers’ lounge. Many veterans in the teaching profession advise new teachers to stay away, because they know that it can be a negative atmosphere, especially for newbies. However, if everyone was to stay away from the teachers’ lounge, then how can it ever become a place of solace and positivity? Think about the days when your students are unruly. Wouldn’t spending a few minutes with adults feel like a dream? While many teachers believe the lounge is filled with negative, catty teachers who like to complain, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips on how to make the teachers’ lounge a more positive experience for all in the teaching profession.
Have you ever entered a space and it felt cozy and warm, like you were in the comfort of your own home? Just like you made your classroom a space that felt welcoming, you too can create a warm and welcoming space in the teachers’ lounge. All you have to do is enlist the help of your fellow colleagues. Ask them to bring in their favorite photographs so you can put them up on the wall. Place flowers on the tables as centerpieces to help brighten up the room. Bring in comfy pillows to place on the backs of the chairs to make them more comfortable. Have teachers chip in each week to bring in some yummy treats to share for something to look forward to. The more welcoming the space, the more positive the people in it will be.
Your staff room isn’t just a place to eat, it can also be a place to share your teaching ideas. A great example of this comes from a school where one teacher decided she wanted to create a staff bulletin board, where teachers could share their teaching ideas and resources. She labeled it “Teaching Tidbits” and teachers would share their ideas, favorite websites, lesson ideas, videos, and books. You name it, it was on there. It was a great addition to their staff room and helped it become a better place of positivity.
You may not love every aspect of your job, but you still can enjoy the camaraderie of the teachers that you work with. As much as you may hate the drama in the teacher’s lounge, and would probably prefer to knock a few tasks off of your to-do list instead, eating lunch with your colleagues can be good for you. First, it beats eating by yourself. Second, it shows that you are part of the team. Camaraderie is an essential part of teaching, and by sharing a meal with your colleagues, you’re showing them that are you in. Eat your lunch in the staff room and share a few lighthearted stories about yourself or your students. It’s one of the easiest ways to foster a positive atmosphere in the teacher’s lounge.
The teacher’s lounge can be a very busy place where people are always coming and going. With that said, it can be easy to be labeled disrespectful and inconsiderate. To avoid these labels, make sure that you take the time to clean up your dishes, put away anything that you may have borrowed, and take your food out of the fridge (don’t let it just rot in there). Everyone is just as busy as you are, so make sure that you are always considerate of others when in the teachers lounge. Also, be friendly to everyone that you encounter in the lounge because you never know when you may work with them or need a favor.
Another great way to make the teachers’ lounge a more positive experience for yourself is to try and participate in things every once in a while. You don’t have to sign up for every early morning teacher breakfast or potluck lunch, but you should make an effort to sign up for at least a few. This will again show that you’re part of the team, which is a great way to make the atmosphere a more positive one. As you know, teachers are busy people, but it is important to make the time to interact with your colleagues and participate in some social gatherings. If you think about it, it doesn’t take much effort on your part to bring in a box of donuts to share into the teacher’s lounge. This low-level effort is a great way to score you some points with the other faculty members.
The more positive, selfless, kind, and caring you are, the more positive the space that you are in will become. While it may seem easier to avoid the teacher’s lounge than to be in it, it’s not always the best choice to make. Just by spending a few minutes of your time with your colleagues each day can be beneficial to you. You never know when you may need a shoulder to lean on after a tough day with your students.
How do you make the teacher’s lounge a positive experience? What tips do you have for your colleagues in the teaching profession? Please share your thoughts about this topic in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com