Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Staff room dilemmas

Autumn term of this school year behind me, and things have found their routine slots and paths - it's business as usual. The only major change to last year is that from 45-minute lessons and 5-10-minute breaks, we have switched to 75-minute lessons with 15-minute breaks in between. I have already noticed how it somewhat calms down the hectic pace of a school day.

The longer breaks also mean more time spent in the staff room, as we don't have our own classrooms, and have to change rooms after almost every class. You would hope that it would mean more time spent on developing ideas, initiating team-teaching and projects to integrate classes, not to mention sharing good practices and new experiments with colleagues. In a school with a long-standing permanent staff, though, it's really rare that any of this takes place. Breaks are spent gossiping and small talking about everyday trivia, or complaining about problematic students. As important as all of this is - we all need to vent out and socialize, of course! - if staff room talk is nothing but this, I think a very important element is missing.

For me, the staff room is, first and foremost, a place to work. This puts me totally at odds with those for whom it is mainly the hub of their social lives, and work is something they do privately behind closed doors. I have resolved this situation by spending more and more time online, even at school. After all, why wouldn't I spend my time reading informative blog posts, on educational networks or Twitter, as that's where the enriching conversations are, where I learn and get inspired? I have tried to share my ideas, get others excited, or at least mildly interested, but mostly to no avail.

How to solve this dilemma in this new year? By giving up my professional ambitions and passions, and becoming one of the cackling mass? Or by secluding myself even more into "the cloud", and becoming a hopeless, anti-social and arrogant geek in the eyes of most of my face-to-face colleagues?


Salla said...

Regards from a fellow teacher!

I share your views completely! I also have an urge to be inspired by new ideas around me, but it cannot be done in the staff room - sad but true. And as you say, there's no better place for finding contacts, ideas and motivation than the internet. (As is proven by the fact that here I am, sharing :D)

There are studies (as I'm sure you're aware) that the people active in the social medias are above averige in social activity also irl... So there's nothing to worry about :)

sinikka said...

Hi Salla, how nice to read your reassuring comment, and meet somebody who shares similar thoughts. Thank you for taking the time and effort to comment!

My post was a bit of a rant, but sometimes I feel such a weirdo in my daily work environment. Let's keep finding inspiration and motivation from like-minded colleagues online!