Teaching is more than a job; it is a calling. In a perfect world, all teachers would work together in harmony for the betterment of the school and the community. However, the school is still a workplace – and that means that sometimes drama will creep in where you least expect it.
It is tough enough dealing with students and the inevitable drama that takes place around young kids. Face it, there will be tough parents to deal with, arguments between students, and more. Most teachers are dedicated to their jobs, and they do their best to work alongside colleagues for the best student outcomes. However, there is always the potential for workplace drama. Teachers’ lounges and workrooms are often rife with gossip and bad attitudes. In order to do your best work and stay free of workplace drama, here are a few tips for dealing with such situations.
- Keep to yourself, especially around the Negative Nancy types.
The Negative Nancy teachers will make themselves known fairly early in the school year. They may be the teachers who complain about teacher meetings during the first days of school. They’ll be in the lounge downing the principal or another teacher. Even worse, they may ask to see your roster, then tell you how Little Johnny or Susie is the worst student you’ll have. Avoid these teachers like the plague! To be honest, they’re miserable, and we all know misery loves company.
- Use your planning period to actually get work done; don’t be tempted to spend it in the lounge or workroom.
You can’t be roped into drama if you aren’t present for it. Sure, go grab a snack during your break, but stay out of the lounge or teacher’s workroom for long periods of time.
- Keep the door to your classroom closed when you’re on your break.
This will help to dissuade those Negative Nancy types from venturing in your room to spread the latest gossip. I’ve known teachers who not only closed their doors but kept their lights off during their planning period to avoid gossip and drama.
- If you are unable to avoid the gossip or negative teacher, then do your best to walk away.
Leave the teachers’ lounge when the gossip starts. If you’re on playground duty and your fellow teachers start downing the administration, walk away. Be polite, of course, but your actions will speak volumes. Eventually, your colleagues will learn you don’t care to participate in their negative conversations.
- Be careful about your “work friends.”
Even if you don’t participate in gossip or negative conversations, you may still be drawn into friendships with teachers who have a reputation for “stirring the pot.” Unfortunately, you might be labeled as such should you become close friends with teachers who do. Always be cordial, but do your best to keep those who gossip at arms’ length.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up.
You may not be able to avoid workplace gossip, and you may get stuck with a few Negative Nancy types in your PLC team. This is the time you may have to cordially let them know that you would really rather stay focused on the task of teaching. Don’t be afraid to steer a meeting back on course.
Like all workplaces, the school tends to have its share of drama. However, you can steer clear and put your focus on your students.