The following post was first posted in 2011, but the dilemma is still very relevant. In fact, the topic is particularly relevant at the beginning of every school year, when teachers and their new students are still “sizing each other up”.
It’s funny how things tie in with each other.
I hadn’t thought much about our staff room since the school finally purchased more chairs. Due to the fact that I’m not one of those teachers who manage to be in the staff room the moment the bell rings, I often could not find a free chair. But that issue has been taken care of.
Tyson Seburnt’s interesting post “What’s a Staff Room to You?” made me realize that there are other kinds of staff rooms, reflecting a whole different approach to a staff room, one used for collaborating on school issues, for instance. Our HUGE room staff room is mainly used for eating /drinking coffee and talking. Although the room is enormous, most teachers sit around specific tables, in sub groups. During the so-called lunch break (25 minutes at 10:40 in the morning!) the noise of conversation is loud. But what are teachers talking about?
If you had asked me that a week ago I would have said: Teachers’ offspring, fashion and television. Maybe some politics.
Right after reading the post, the head of our Deaf and hard of hearing staff department implored us not to talk about students during our breaks around the table.
Hmm, that’s right. I didn’t really pay much attention to it but we do talk about students, or rather “vent” our feelings about them.
She’s worried that sensitive information we know might be overheard by people who shouldn’t be privy to that information (not that you can hear much with the noise level during the break…)
The very same day I read an article in EL (ASCD) magazine called “Respect – Where Do We Start” by Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin. The author talks about the negative influence of teachers sitting and complaining about their problematic students during lunch breaks. She says that these kind of conversations do not lead to the creation of constructive suggestions on dealing with students. The reverse may be true – hearing other colleagues also complain about a pupil makes the teacher feel more entitled to her negative feelings about that pupil. In addition, the author also claims that when teachers spend their free time talking about what brings them down and not what they feel good about it encourages our brains to think in more negative ways.
In short, Beaudoin calls for a “no-talk-about-students” rule for lunch hour.
I see the author’s point but I’m not sure I agree. In fact, I’m not sure it is a rule we could live by. With all the support systems such as my AWESOME P.L.N and my patient husband who listens to me in the evenings, there is nothing like the support of your fellow teachers, who actually teach the same pupils, especially when you exit a lesson ready to tear your hair out.
Do YOU agree?