By Teachers, For Teachers
The teacher’s lounge can be a place of solace after a couple of hours with a few unruly children. It can also be a place of drama, filled with negative, catty individuals that complain about teaching. One of the best parts of being a teacher is that you get the opportunity to sit behind closed doors most of the day, and you are the person who is in control. If only all of your in-school interactions where so easy. To help you maximize a positive impact outside of your classroom, follow these teaching strategies.
As much as you may hate the drama in the teacher’s lounge, or just prefer to knock a few tasks off of your “To-do” list, you must eat your lunch with your colleagues, and here’s why. First of all, it beats eating by yourself, and secondly, it shows that you are part of the team. Camaraderie is an important part of teaching, and your colleagues want to know what you’re up to in, and outside of the classroom. Sharing a quick meal and a few lighthearted student stories is the easiest teaching strategies to foster a positive atmosphere in the teacher’s lounge – and not to mention showing your friendly smiling face every day is sure to win over your colleagues.
Sit with the “Right” Teachers
By this, I mean stay away from the drama-filled teachers who are always complaining about the administration, or getting into other people’s business. Every teacher’s lounge has their cliques, whether you would like to admit or or not. Your goal is to surround yourself with the teachers who are positive, friendly, cheerful, and effective at their job. Just as you tell your students or children to hang with the right crowd, you too need to heed your own advice. Sitting at a table filled with negative people who are always putting your job down, or complaining about their students, will only bring you down. The principal will notice who you surround yourself with, and judge you upon that. So, if you want to make a great impression with administration, then sit with the “right” teachers at lunchtime.
The teacher’s lounge can be a very busy place where people are always coming and going, so make sure that you take the time to clean up your dishes, put away anything that you borrowed, and don't let your food rot in the fridge. If you use the copy machine, be sure that you leave it as you found it. Everyone's busy when they are on their break, but consistent rudeness or lack of respect just isn’t right. Try to take the time to remember everyone’s birthdays, and be friendly to everyone that you encounter in the lounge. You never know when you will need a favor.
Make Friends with Everyone
Talk to everyone, not just your fellow teachers. This means the school secretary and the school janitor. These people are an important part of the schools dynamic. The secretary is usually the “go-to” person for administration and can be quite powerful. If you ever need a favor or want a good word put in, these people are the ones that you want to align yourself with. So if you see any one of them in the teacher’s lounge, then these are your “right” people to sit with.
Participate in Teacher Events
Now you don’t have to sign up for every early morning teacher breakfast or potluck luncheon, but you should make an effort to sign up for at least a few a year. We all know that teachers are busy people, but you need to make the time to interact with your colleagues and participate in social gatherings. It doesn’t take much effort to bring a box of donuts or a batch of cookies into the teacher’s lounge. This low-level effort will be sure to win you a few brownie points with the faculty members.
The most positive and effective teachers are the ones that are selfless, kind, and caring. They support their school and make time for others. While it may seem easier to avoid the teacher’s lounge it’s not always the best road to take. Just 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 favor, or just someone to lean on after a tough day.
Do you utilize your teacher’s lounge? What tips do you have for your fellow teachers? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your responses.
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 a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.