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Some Thoughts on Teaching Conditions: The Teachers’ Room
by Sandy Regev

The teachers’ room. Three small words with so many expectations and disappointments behind them.

The teachers’ room. So many possibilities – a calm island in the midst of a storm, a place to gather strength before going out to charm, empower, lecture, entertain, guide and lead your students to the fields of knowledge, to seek advice and share problems with your colleagues, a place to prepare yourself for the day’s work and to rest your tired body and soul.

But in reality? a maelstrom, like the eye of a tornado.

The teachers’ room in my school is physically very tiny, less than half the size of a classroom. In this room, crowded together are two walls of locked cubbies for the teachers. The lucky ones, like myself, with a cubby in the middle or upper row. Those who are unlucky have to bend down or sit on the floor to take things out of their cubby. A third wall holds a refrigerator and a usually overflowing sink, with a small table beside it with a toaster and microwave. In the middle of the room are three tables placed lengthwise, with chairs around them. The fourth wall holds bulletin boards with notices for the teachers. In this room, on a regular day, are about thirty teachers. Talk about a crowded classroom!

Because of the crowded conditions and the short amount of time (and yes, the teachers’ behavior and attitude) the room is filthy. Cups and dishes on the tables and sink. Coffee stains and spilled tea on the tables and sometimes on the papers as well. Spilled sugar, torn tea bags and someone always yelling for a spoon. The refrigerator door is usually left open and the garbage overflows on to the floor. After the bell, the room looks like the aftermath of a disaster.

There are teachers’ bags on all the chairs and papers on the tables. Those who are seated are scrunched up with the bags. Others are standing for want of space. Teachers are trying to get a hot drink, check their locker, eat a sandwich, read the bulletin board, socialize, check the schedule for changes, tell the homeroom teacher about a problem with one of her students, ask the advisor about accommodations for a certain pupil and talk with students who are looking for them, all at the same time and in a space of 10 minutes. The noise is deafening, the feeling claustrophobic. The message – this is not a place to be – run for your life!

And back to the dream. The teachers’ room is quiet and calm. There is a large, open space with tables and chairs scattered around the room. There are curtains on the windows, moving gently in the breeze. There is room for all the teachers as they come in after class, put their books away and get a cup of coffee, sit down and relax after the lesson. Pleasantries are exchanged in quiet, calm voices. Teachers take out papers, some of them start to grade quizzes, others check work, while still others quietly consult with their colleagues at a far table. There are several computers on the far wall, where teachers can prepare their work or enter grades for their classes. The room is neat and clean. After every break, the housemother comes in, cleans up, washes and puts away the glasses. The teachers, at the sound of the bell, renewed and refreshed, gather together their things and move off to their classrooms.

Which teachers’ room is preferable? Which teacher would you like to have?

Utopia? No, definitely possible. Something to strive for, something attainable. Hopefully soon.

Postscript: Having read this article and many other teachers’ complaints and of course, being aware of the problem herself, our principal notified us at the end of the year, that we would be getting a new, larger, improved teachers’ room in September.

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