Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Why I Avoid the ‘Teachers’ Lounge’ and You Should, Too

By Lauren Powell — August 09, 2016 3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In college, all of my education professors warned of the dangers of “the teachers’ lounge"—a bastion of gossip and backbiting in schools, they said. I always thought that it must be an over-exaggeration. During my student-teaching assignment, my cooperating teacher was such an incredible mentor that I came to believe the dangers of the teachers’ lounge could only be a myth. She never talked poorly about anyone and always had a positive attitude. Her outlooks on teaching, collaboration, and positive teacher-student interactions were infectious. If the way she conducted herself was any indication, teachers weren’t gossip hounds anymore.

As I moved forward in my own career in teaching, I continued to see the nefarious version of the teachers’ lounge as a kind of misrepresentation. Even so, professors’ words echoed in the back of my mind: “Watch out for the teachers’ lounge.” In my first few years in teaching, I was shy, quiet, and mostly kept to myself unless I was talking with my close friend at work.

What I failed to realize is that the teachers’ lounge has its way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You don’t even realize it has begun taking hold of you until it has completely sucked you into its vortex of gossip and negativity. To my own detriment, my professors failed to share with me that the teachers’ lounge does not remain only in the teachers’ lounge proper. The teachers’ lounge can be anywhere: a teacher’s classroom, the hallway, or during the time waiting for a faculty meeting. As a matter of fact, the teachers’ lounge is not a place at all. It is an attitude or atmosphere fostered by disenchanted teachers intent on bringing everyone down a level.

Innocent Beginnings

It starts out inconspicuously, as any normal conversation might. A coworker comes over to you with a smile on her face and asks a seemingly innocent question, “How did your PLC go today?” That was how it happened for me. My initial reaction was, “Oh, she seems nice.” But behind that friendly smile was someone with the intent of intertwining my words into their vine of stories, and sadly, my naiveté—along with her apparent congeniality—made me easy prey. We were soon chatting about colleagues.

“One little piece of gossip won’t hurt me. And I’m mostly just listening, so I am an innocent bystander.”

That’s what I told myself. But then I got in deeper, by imperceptible degrees.

Since I am a naturally quiet person who listens more than I speak, colleagues soon began coming and telling me all of the “little” things they had seen or heard that day. I had become like Varys on “Game of Thrones,” with little birds gathering whispers from all over the school for me. With such an abundance of gossip running through my mind, I couldn’t contain it all and had to share with someone. Still being completely naïve of the path I had taken, I ran off to the person who asked me that first seemingly innocent question. The words poured out of my mouth with ease: “Did you hear how Smith strolled into Foster’s room today and started bashing Thomas right in front of her kids?!”

Weeks and months passed before I finally realized the path I had taken myself down. I had entered the “teachers’ lounge” without knowing it. I had become a part of the place all my college professors warned me about.

Walking Away

Once you enter the teachers’ lounge, it’s not easy to escape. Everyone expects to be able to share their juicy gossip with you and get information in return. The problem with being a part of the teachers’ lounge is that it breeds negativity. As that negativity festers, it spreads like the plague, polluting the minds of an entire team of teachers. The tragedy of this is that the teachers’ sickness then spreads to the students.

How many times have you had to intervene in he-said, she-said drama with students? We give advice to our students on how to keep these situations from occurring or how to end the dramatics, but how often do we follow our own advice? As teachers, we should be role models.

When faced with the opportunity to join in on the teachers’ lounge, we need to find a reason to walk away or a way to change the topic. We need to rise above the teachers’ lounge mentality and bring positivity back into our schools. The task may not be easy, but if we can place these expectations on our students, then we should take on those same expectations.

Together, as constructive educators, we can defuse the teachers’ lounge of its power.

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Joe and Jill Biden Honor Teachers at Long-Delayed White House Ceremony
The president, with the first lady in attendance, called teachers the "single most consequential people in the world beyond our parents."
4 min read
First lady Jill Biden hugs Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year, on the South Lawn of the White House Oct. 18.
First lady Jill Biden stands beside Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2020 and 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year at the White House on Monday.
Evan Vucci/AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Wellness Can't Be Just Another Task for Teachers to Do
If we want teachers to remain in the profession, state departments of education, school districts, and parent groups must step up.
Beth Pandolpho
4 min read
Vibrant hand drawn illustration depicting mindfulness concept
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Thousands of Teachers Who Were Denied Loan Forgiveness Will Get a Second Chance
A settlement between the American Federation of Teachers and the U.S. Department of Education establishes a review process for borrowers.
4 min read
Teaching Profession Teachers May See Student Loans Forgiven Under New Ed. Dept. Changes
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, long criticized for its complicated and poorly communicated processes, is getting an overhaul.
4 min read
Image of Money, Benjamin Franklin Close Up
Getty