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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Readers' Survey 2007: Hottest Topic in the Teachers' Lounge

Edutopia readers weigh in on their favorites.
By Edutopia Staff

Testing

It is tempting, at first, to feel sorry for the handful of teachers who responded to this question by saying they don't have a teachers' lounge. (As one wrote, "There isn't time for it.") A closer read of all the responses provides a twist. This is indeed a story about haves and have-nots, but in this version, it is the have-nots who should be envied. The litany of sorrows up for discussion in the lounge -- gangs, discipline, lack of student motivation, "how the district is going down the tubes," and a broadly felt "testing, always testing, testing that never ends and sucks the soul out of education" -- makes it hardly surprising that one teacher advised, simply, "Don't go there."

Our Take

This Old Teachers' Lounge

It isn't enough, or even fair, to suggest removal of the teachers' lounge as a way of helping educators avoid obsessing about the pains and pitfalls of their demanding jobs. Instead, we propose an extreme makeover of this vital space.

Architectural Digest has never featured a teachers' lounge, but because we are fantasizing, the sky's the limit. We suggest adding a row of massage chairs, flower arrangements changed twice a week, a high-end Bose sound system (or even a resident string quartet), and a high-def flat screen TV (so "The Young and The Restless" can divert us from the young and the restless).

NEXT PAGE OF READERS' SURVEY: Best new book about education

2007 Readers' Survey Index

Comments (12)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Megan Kilgore's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

During my first year of teaching I visited the teachers lounge often. It was a great place to chat with my fellow teachers and hear about their day. I could run my problems by several teachers and gain support or new ideas. I love the teachers lounge. However, this year I have not frequented the lounge so much. I found I liked to eat lunch in my classroom so I could work on other things. This got to be to lonely, so I have started to go back on a few days a week. It is nice to visit with other teachers and it is sometimes nice to have the piece and quiet of my classroom.

A lot of the teachers in the lounge do complain about one thing or another, but usually we guide each towards solutions or resources to help. Not so much gossip anymore, which is really nice. I tried not to get involved with that.

Christina B.'s picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think if our teacher's room looked like the one in the image on the page I'd visit it more often. Granted our teacher's room is nice enough but I feel I can get more work done right in my own classroom. I don't think I have ever had time beyond my first year teaching to just visit the teacher's room just because. My school did really make our room nice recently painting it a nice calming blue and adding chairs and tables but I'm lucky enough to have my own room. Besides that, everyone in the teacher's room is busy on the computer or making copies, etc. I guess it's a nice place to go and hide if you want to be low key.

DK's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is my first year teaching and the only time I've been in the teacher's lounge was to get the eggs out of the refrigerator for the egg drop contest during family science night. There is no time during the day to sit and chat.

VP's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I was appointed a mentor for a first year teacher this past school year and I advised her to STAY OUT of our teacher's lounge. For some reason at my school, such negative people dwell in that lounge, and even if you are just running through to use the bathroom, the negativity in the room seems to bring you down. Whenever I said something to try and pick these negative people up, they would make comments like, "What are you so happy about?", "Oh, you have energy because you are young" or "wait until you have kids." I really get upset when people say things like this to me. Granted, I don't have children of my own yet, but I can't imagine that when I do I'll be that negative about teaching and education. I believe it is good to talk with collegues, but I think maybe a teacher should take into consideration who those collegues are. I feel it is a good idea to stay close with your positive collegues who can help you grow as a teacher instead of making everyone around them miserable!

Neal Schopick's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree about the negativity but I think they are also very important. I think listening to others, sharing problems, working on solutions, etc. is important.

Michelle Castellanos's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I ate lunch in the teacher's lounge my first year teaching. The only reason I go there now is to attend union meetings and to occassionally use the vending machine. I try to always remain optimistic about teaching and some teachers just suck all the optimism right out of you. If I need help/suggestions I rather visit people personally.

Clarissa Miles's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

My principal has turned our teacher's lounge into a wonderful place to relax, mingle, and share ideas. Very rarely does anyone come in complaining or gossiping. We find other places to do that outside of school. I feel that "venting" to other teachers is very important in releasing stress. I would rather vent and seek advice from other teachers, rather than take it home with me. Some may say that is wrong, but that seems to be working for those who teach in my school.

Carrie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

After teaching in two small private schools and having nothing but uplifting words spoken in our "lounge" I was shocked when I stepped foot into the lounges of the public schools. As a sub I travel to many schools in our district. I have found that teacher lounges are not always friendly places. There are only a few that I will go in every time I am in the building. Often, I use the lounge as a place to network but when I walk in and hear grumbling and complaining I really don't want to come back to that school. Oh the other hand I have 3 schools where I love to go to because the teachers are upbeat, encouraging, and happy. Negative words are not spoken. Life is too short and often hard but we don't need to spread negativity on our jobs. We can always find things to gripe about but there are always joys to share as well. As professionals I believe that we need to share the joys of teaching, maybe then the negatives not seem so negative.
If you have nothing nice to say please stay out of the lounges.

Fastwork.su's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

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Joy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm a graduate student at Walden University and I have mixed feelings about the lounge. I think that it would be awesome to have a lounge like this at a school. However, in my experience, there is just not enough time in the day to be sitting down and watching tv. There is always something to be done and I don't believe that watching tv and getting massages is very productive and should not be done at school. While I'm at school, my focus is solely on my students and doing whatever I can to help each student be successful. I strive to be a role model for my students and if they see me "off task" there is no justification.

On the other hand, I think that the lounge can be a great place for teachers to collaborate with their colleagues. Kramer (2003) advises that teachers need to be cooperative rather than competitive. Research continues to tell us that we need to form learning communities and that can be done from collaborating with your colleagues. The lounge can be a great place for teachers to talk and share strategies and techniques that have been beneficial in their classroom. I know that each school is different and that you just have to know when to avoid negative talk and when confidentiality should be used. During my student teaching, the only time I really got to see the music and p.e. teachers was during lunch. I think it is all about finding a balance and regardless where it's done, teachers need to talk to each other and find time for reflection.

Kramer, P. A. (2003, Fall). The ABCs of professionalism. Kappa Delta Pi Record.

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