Teacher’s Lounge Toxicity

Teachers Lounge Toxicity:

In my first year of teaching, I saw a lot of things that made me want to quit. I worked with colleagues that had no interest in students. My department chair was too busy being glamorous than to give me feedback on becoming a good teacher. She may have come into my class once or twice the whole year, but it was never to observe. It was usually to ask me to cover her last period class so she could leave early.


But I digress, this post isn’t about my department head. It’s about the negative things that you’ll encounter at schools that will make you want to quit.

One of those is the teacher’s lounge. In my first year of teaching, this was by far the most toxic place in the building. images-5

I’m thinking, let me go to the Teachers’ lounge. The veteran teachers are there, as there’s no better place to get feedback and learn. In theory, I was correct. Unfortunately, my learning was what not to do, which is still learning when you think about it.

The teacher’s lounge is defined as a space in your building where teachers go to have lunch, decompress, and talk about pedagogical improvements.


Implicit Bias in Teacher Lounges:

Moreover, my teacher’s lounge was nothing like that. When you walked in, you immediately heard negative remarks about students and families. images-13 In retrospect, I guess you can learn valuable things to help your students address daily trauma they may face, but the way these families where being talked about was horrible.

After a couple of visits, I vowed never to return. The psychological drain that I put on myself hearing families being spoken about like that wasn’t worth the intel.


Teachers as Change Agents:

Understandably some of you may ask, well what did you do to change it? Here’s what I did:

1. I recommitted myself to being a professional at work. If folks see that I’m serious, hopefully, my behavior will inspire someone else.
2. I spoke to my colleagues individually, and I spoke up for students and families.
3. I created a space in my own room where teachers could come and decompress without having to tear down students and families.

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In essence, my advice to teachers that don’t want to burn out and quit. Do the teacher’s lounge in moderation. The unsustainable toxicity isn’t worth the comradery.

If you have a different experience, please share it with me. By combining learned skills, we grow as educators.

Author: Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr.

Mr. Ankrum is the current Superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School. Mr. Ankrum has gained notoriety as a school turnaround expert. He is enthusiastic about helping students from low (SES) find ways to end generational poverty through educational advocacy. If you believe PoC can end generational poverty by exercising educational opportunities, you have an ally in @Mr_Ankrum.

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