When I first started teaching the staff room at lunch was a lively place to be. Teachers would gather together and take a break in the middle of the day… slow down for a moment and connect with colleagues. Sometimes the conversations were about students but a lot of the time we just connected with each other.
Conversations in the staff room were wide ranging from talking about books to sharing recipes to dreaming up ideas for vacations. The conversations were lively and laughter spilled out the door and into the hallway.
Then, times changed… demands increased. Prep time was taken away to add in an additional meeting. Teachers were scrambling to get everything done.
The staff room went silent. It became gloomy.
I would go in at noon to get my lunch and the light would be off and the room would be empty. I would heat up my lunch and bring it back to my classroom and do work at my desk while eating. Teachers were holed up in their rooms trying to get ready for the afternoon, answer a few emails or look at student work. Days would go by and I wouldn’t see teachers from other parts of the building at all. It was sad to be so disconnected.
Gradually a few of us started to realize we needed a break and made a conscious effort to eat in the staff room a few days week. But, there were some who just kept working away not able to spare the 20 minutes for a break.
But then something changed… Soup day! A staff member set up a Sign Up Genius for staff to take turns bringing soup to school. On Tuesday mornings delicious smells travel down the hallways of our school beckoning teachers to come out of their classrooms. Shortly after noon the staff room becomes a gathering place once again. We need to squeeze in around the tables to fit and lively conversation once again fill the air.
It may only be one day a week but now I get to talk to people I otherwise wouldn’t see. It is a step in the right direction towards being a community of colleagues and friends once again.