By Teachers, For Teachers
“When you’re working in a school,” she said, “stay away from the teachers’ lounge.”
Despite having nothing to do with teaching language arts, this is the best advice I ever received.
Though the statement seemed like an odd warning when Dr. Russell, one of my education professors, told my class, it stuck with me. For one thing, I didn’t know of many teachers who actually had time to visit the teachers’ lounge. And what dangers could lurk in one of these dingy, little rooms… besides empty calories and fat grams in the vending machines?
The wisdom behind Dr. Russell’s words didn’t really click until after I had been teaching for a few years. I realized that the teachers’ lounge isn’t a room. It’s anyplace where teachers gather to “vent.” And the dangers are many.
Gripes and Grumbles
Let’s face it, complaining is an easy habit to fall into. When coworkers get together to chat, it’s usually not long before the talk turns ugly. The kids are hopeless. The parents should have never been allowed to have kids. Education is going you-know-where in a handbasket (whatever that is). It’s all doom and gloom once the ball gets rolling.
Avoid the gripe sessions, and your day suddenly looks much sunnier.
The Rumor Mill
Another teachers’ lounge trap is the ever-present grapevine. It might be tempting to join in on the gossip sessions, but just remember that the rumor mill is not only unreliable, it’s fickle. Anyone who will share gossip with you will spread gossip about you. Gossiping leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and awkward situations at work.
Steer clear of teacher groups who are eager to delve into everyone else’s personal lives.
Sticks and Stones
Once the complaining snowballs and the rumors are out on the table, the conversations tend to become vindictive. If you find yourself listening to someone rip a fellow teacher to shreds behind her back, you’ve officially fallen into the teachers’ lounge trap. The only way out is to politely excuse yourself and suddenly become very busy with planning lessons or grading papers.
Keep away from grown-up bullies who tear others down to build themselves up.
All in Good Fun
Card-carrying members of the teachers’ lounge usually get their laughs at someone else’s expense. Making fun of students, parents, administrators, and coworkers is their favorite pastime. If you decide to join the party and get a few laughs yourself, you’ll step on a few toes along the way and possibly even make a few enemies. You could also get caught up in a more serious situation if the fun gets out of hand and someone complains to the powers that be.
Stick to the golden rule. You can’t go wrong if you treat others as you would want to be treated.
What tips do you have when it comes to the teachers' lounge? Share in the comments section!