I am notorious in my talks with students for warning them about the teachers’ lounge when they face future employment. I know it seems harsh, but the teachers’ lounge can be one of the most negative and hopeless places in a school building. I have a colleague that teaches at another local university who doesn’t even allow her student teachers in the teachers’ lounge for fear it will jade them and burn out their flames and enthusiasm for teaching.
But as Christians, I believe the teachers’ lounge is a place to let your light shine, to be a beacon of hope and love for your colleagues, administrators, students, and families. It can be a place to show your care and concern for the struggling student and the least of these.
I remember the challenges of this as a young teacher. It would seem prudish to not participate in being negative about administration or to act above the negative attitudes that my colleagues portrayed about their students and each other. I found humor and a smile to be helpful in my avoidance of these negative behaviors… like often joking, “I wonder what you all say about me when I’m not in the room”. I’ve often even reflected that it’s the negative attitude and gossiping of (more particularly) women that takes place in the teachers’ lounge as a possible reason that many female teachers are over looked for leadership positions. We can often be deemed as untrustworthy because of our talks and negative attitude about others.
This is an everyday battle we all struggle with in our lives. How do we guard our hearts from these negative attitudes? While we may have the best of intentions of going to our co-workers for encouragement, prayer and support for one another, it can quickly turn into gripe sessions, back biting, and gossiping. This can create a negative environment for us to cultivate the fruits of the spirit. We need to always guard our hearts and meditate with verses like Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”