Every school you find yourself in will have a staffroom – but the size, layout, furniture will all be different. Ranging from the newly kitted out spacious room to the pokey space that has all the old furniture in it and you share with the photocopiers!
Whichever you find yourself inhabiting – it is your space to escape the classroom and to relax a little.
Staffrooms, in fact have come a long way from years ago. They have always been the retreat of teachers but in the pre smoking ban era they were a fug of tobacco smoke with yellowed nicotine stained walls…and not really a great place to be.
There isn’t really that much to say about the rooms and furniture that exist in staffrooms. It is very much having to put up with what you have got in the school – however it has been shown in the business environment that providing a clean, spacious and bright area as a staff room actually increases staff work rates and production as people feel valued. Of course in huge companies like Google and Facebook they provide outdoor areas inside the buildings with benches and plants and even trees!
Whatever space you have been given, all staff have to fit in and also there should be seating for everyone. There are requirements for making hot drinks and sinks etc. There should be provision for staff to work if required but this might now be placed in another area of the school. There should also be provision for staff to safely and securely leave possessions – so lockers should be provided.
As a final point photocopiers should NOT be in the staffroom. There are health and safety issues with this and if this is the case then it needs referring to the senior management team.
But this article today is really not about the physical side of staffrooms – rather the staff interaction that occurs in staffrooms.
Staffrooms are a place where all staff can escape the classroom and “immediate” school building. It should be a place where staff need not be disturbed unnecessarily and where they can talk more freely!
So lets look at the differing scenario’s that can occur….
Staff fall into 2 categories according to the size of the school and you should be prepared for these differences
Small Primary Schools
By their very nature the small staff size will mean that it is a “everyone in this together” attitude. So you will need to get to know all members of staff (including T.A’s) and have a basic interaction with them all. As in life, you will get on better with some members of staff than others but you will need to deal professionally with most of the team so you need to form some sort of basic relationship with them all and be able to hold some sort of professional and personal conversation and be aware of perhaps family and home life. If there are not many staff then this is entirely possible and I would say necessary in this size school.
Large Primary Schools
There are some very large Primary schools and the situation here is different. There is a more pronounced “pecking order” in management staff and this causes a natural division. Not in any negative sense but in the general interactions of staff between themselves. So you will probably find main scale teachers will gravitate together and management staff also.
With there being so many staff you will find the people that you get along with and it will be these people that you will get to know better and spend more time with. However you must be at least pleasant to all members of staff (even those you dont like!)…even if this only extends to a polite “good morning, did you have a good weekend?”
The staff rooms will be much bigger and groups will form in the seating. I have been in staffrooms of 60 staff and the number of different groups is amazing!
As a teacher you will not get to know many members of staff – this will usually be the support staff that don’t work with you or within your year group. However be polite to all.
Completely different as an established teacher than a new teacher.
- As a new teacher then common sense tells you to sit back and judge how things work. Don’t try to be “part of the fun” too early but assess how the staffroom dynamics pan out and slowly you will be accepted. Take note on the levels of fun, messing about, language etc and you will see what is acceptable and what is not. However do be aware that what is acceptable from established members of staff may not be acceptable if you are a newcomer!
- The days of staff having their own seats has largely gone…but make sure. In large schools you will find that specific areas of the staffroom for a group seem to be set. So shall we say a group of more senior staff may all sit together in the same spot all the time – don’t pinch their spot as they won’t be happy!
- I have said that staffroom provide an escape for staff ….this is certainly the case. Within the staffroom staff should have the privacy to say and discuss what they wish. This means that at times you will hear “colourful” language used and staff expressing their feelings about lessons, children, parents etc. This ALL remains in the staffroom and you should NEVER repeat anything that is said. Staff should be confident in having this space to express feeling we all have in life without the danger of indiscretion from other members of staff.
- Staff should also be able to laugh and joke about things in their personal lives or things in the public domain – it may not be “Primary School” appropriate but it doesn’t matter, we all have normal lives and can laugh , joke and share things with friends.
- However once your first foot steps outside the staffroom door you revert back to Miss…, Mrs…or Mr… and you are back in teacher mode!
Staffrooms are quite special places in school. In a world where we deal with young children all day every day – they represent a place where we can be back in adult mode for a short time. Teachers are no different from everyone else. They have private lives outside of the teaching day. As in life….there are happy, sad and difficult times and teachers will wish to share their lives with colleagues and get their support. The staffroom represents a melting pot when our teaching lives meet our personal lives. It plays a vital part in both the life of the school and the staff who work there – a sort of home from home.
Primary Practice would like to invite you to join our NQT and trainee teachers Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1347401775298840/?ref=bookmarks