5 guaranteed ways to get death stares in staff meetings

From showing off to keeping everyone past home time – this is how you guarantee a deathly glare will come your way

Jo Steer

Cat evil stare

Meetings can be tiresome, no matter what your profession. In schools, though – with their long list of acronyms, initiatives and blah blah blaaaah – they can feel positively terminal.

At some point, we’ve likely all suffered through a meeting that felt pointless, endless or downright uncomfortable. And at some point, we’ve probably shot the odd death stare towards a colleague who seemed hellbent on keeping us edu-gabbing all night long.

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That’s if we weren’t ourselves the one on the receiving end!

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Try out any of the questions and statements below and that will likely change:

1. The Straight-up Brag:

Common examples: “I never have that problem!” or “They always behave for me!”

For whatever reason, discussion of behaviour policy always seems to bring out those people; the ones who never struggle with behaviour, or anything really, according to them at least.

When others are brave enough to admit openly that something isn’t working for them – that they need a change in procedures or support of some kind – some staff see this is the perfect opportunity to brag about their own talents and abilities. Not only does this create a culture of perfectionism, shame and judgement; it does naff all to solve the problem.

Even if it’s true – if you really don’t the problems that your colleague is having – offer empathy and support, even if only through silence.

2. The Humblebrag

Common examples: “I was up all night reading my class’s incredible assignments [because they have an incredible teacher – me!]” / "Oh no, another nice email from a parent I have to reply to!"

An exercise in false humility, the humblebrag allows a person to feign complaining/self-deprecation, whilst actually bolstering their own ego. Many teachers are pros at it, but we’re also not bad at seeing through it either.

If you’re proud of yourself or your class, that’s OK – just be honest about it!   

3. The Exhausta-brag

Common examples: “I’m so busy [important]!”,  "I worked until 10pm last night!

In the current climate, you might be proclaiming exhaustion…because you’re actually exhausted. However, many of us – myself included – have developed a nasty habit of boasting about our workaholicism/busyness/complete lack of personal life as if it somehow ups our social status.

It doesn’t. It just sucks the life out of those listening.

4. The Needless Complaining

Common examples: “The problem with kids these days… ” / “The system's broken, what we need is...”

No one will judge you for moaning as a teacher. Lord knows, there’s enough to gripe about! But there’s a time and a place to rant and rave, and it isn’t the staff meeting.

Certainly, if you have a valid, specific concern – eg, the latest data targets are more ridiculous than aspirational – bring it up. But once you start venting about the state of attention spans, parenting and educational politics these days, you’re going to lose people. Even if they agree with you, they don’t need to hear it right now.

5. Anything at all, after 5.30pm…

Common examples: Anything at all.

After a long day’s teaching, most of us have only a small window of time in which we can take in and apply information, right before we’re swallowed by brain fog.

If you’re still asking questions an hour and a half in, you’re well-deserving of the odd glare or three. People have got homes to get to, don’t you know? We can debate the pros and cons of a washing-up rota another time. #worklifebalance   

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Jo Steer

Jo Steer is a former leader now working with schools as a wellbeing consultant

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