I bet I can close my eyes and visualise what your staffroom is like- the ‘comfy’ chairs arranged around the edge of the room, a sink which is usually full of cold, murky water with a whole host of mugs dumped from break, a microwave which when opened resembles a murder scene from years of splattered food, a fridge within lurks at least 8 tubs of cream cheese, none of which are ever claimed at the end of a half term. All sound familiar?
However the furniture and fittings of each staffroom do not really interest me, as it’s the people who make a staffroom. It’s the giddy excitement when you know cakes are left for that much needed sugar rush; the banter when someone’s much loved footie team got thrashed at the weekend and everyone feels they need to have a little dig; it’s the international crisis when someone uses the last teabag. It’s where friendships are forged, tears shed, news shared and the one place where you can let off steam. I think the most inappropriate conversations, that shouldn’t be heard past the 9 o’clock watershed, have been discussed in a school staffroom.
Despite all this, worryingly some staffrooms have become empty, as staff choose to eat their lunch alone, marking books in their classroom. I have been guilty of this on occasions but I have realised, especially during my few weeks supply teaching, that teaching can be a very lonely job. In short I miss the staffroom buzz.
I wonder what your staffroom is like? My plea is don’t neglect them, I don’t want them to be a dying breed which will one day become extinct, used instead for interventions or another storage area. I feel that having a communal staff space is vital for fostering staff spirit. I am concerned to hear that in recent government guidelines there is no longer a requirement for a staffroom to be included in a new school build, a crying shame for any newly qualified teachers who will never know the buzz of a busy staffroom.
Most staff only grab 15 minutes for themselves during the day, just make sure you do this in order to recharge batteries ready for the afternoon slog. However rewarding teaching is, you do need that adult contact. We have enough pressures in our job without making it harder for ourselves.
Go on, sit down, eat cake and have a laugh for ten minutes. It’s good for you.