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Letter to the Editor: The Teacher’s Lounge from a Kid’s Perspective (Or Former Kid)

By Cynthia Nagrath
Letter to the Editor: The Teacher’s Lounge from a Kid’s Perspective (Or Former Kid)

I read Joy Jameson’s article, Teachers’ Lounges: Valuable or Wasted Space? and it brought back distant memories for me that until now had been long forgotten.
I am not a teacher, but in the last century I was a K-12 student and I remember the mysterious teachers’ lounges in the schools I attended. As a student one could only catch a glimpse of this restricted, kid-free space. Sometimes my friends and I would try to sneak a peek into the room when a teacher entered and the door briefly opened. Other kids I knew were bolder and actually tried to sneak into the room but that attempted entry came with severe consequences. This truly was a secretive place and everything about it screamed NO KIDS ALLOWED. The window of the door was opaque so there was no telling what was going on inside that room and just to make the message perfectly clear, affixed to the door was an imposing sign that said, Faculty Only.
What we could see is that the teachers were having a pretty good time in there – we could hear laughter, see their vending machines and coffee pots and even smell the smoke that seeped out of the cracks of the door. We were amazed to learn that some teachers smoked and that they actually had a life outside of the classroom. Seeing them sneak off into that room, which was strictly off limits to any student, filled us with was a mixture of awe, curiosity and respect. We learned that teachers were more than just those imposing figures that stood before us in the classrooms; they were people with friends, and social needs of their own. In short, the faculty lounge was a reminder that teachers, even in the course of their busy day, needed adult time.
And it was not just teachers, our parents made it clear to us that there were some times and places reserved for adults only. I remember when my parents hosted dinner parties and guests arrived. My siblings and I were always fed dinner first and at the cocktail hour we were allowed to meet and greet the guests, but soon thereafter, we were whisked away to our rooms for the night and were not to interrupt the adults. Perhaps this is generational because today the notion that parents or teachers should have any time not devoted to children is unheard of. My generation blurred the lines and we befriended our children and spent every available minute of the day with them, forsaking the need for adult time.
The fact that schools are doing away with teachers’ lounges speaks to this same trend and the expectation that teachers should be available to their students at all moments of the day. This is shortsighted thinking because giving teachers a well-deserved break, the opportunity to blow off steam with colleagues, and some good-old fashioned adult time, not only makes for happier teachers, but ultimately, happier students. The relatively minor investment in square footage is a win-win for the entire school community.

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