If there is a lesson to draw from the success of Edudate, the matchmaking platform set up by history teacher Tom Rogers via social media, it is that teachers enjoy the company of other teachers.
Launched in April to soothe single teachers' lockdown blues, the platform has now reached 2,000 subscriptions and has 600 "matches" and 10 couples to show for its matchmaking potential.
"To have 10 couples by this point proves that teachers do get on with teachers," Rogers tells Tes. The benefits of having a teacher partner, according to his subscribers – who must work in education – range from being able to take time off outside of term time to "having the same mentality".
The 10 couples are just the ones Rogers knows about. While he jokes about how he should put a clause in the contract to make it compulsory for subscribers to invite him to their wedding, there is no way to know how many sparks have been ignited by the "edudates".
While LGBT dates, for example, have been particularly successful with a good number of matches, he has not heard of any blossoming romances so far – but this doesn't mean there are none.
So, what's a single teacher got to do to help fate when signing up for an edudate? Here are Rogers' suggestions, based on organising nearly 6,500 dates over a six-month period.
Teacher virtual dating: 5 ground rules
1. Don't just talk about teaching
As much as teachers love hanging out with other teachers, and as much as you have been dying to moan with a kindred soul about the Year 9s/Sats/your drafty classroom, just talking about teaching may not be the best idea.
"Try to talk about things that aren’t just teaching – although that's hard," Rogers concedes. "And also, listen and let the other person talk a bit."
Feedback from some teachers has been that "on their least successful dates, they just talked about teaching for the whole time rather than anything else," says Rogers. "I think they wanted to find out more about the other person rather than just what/how they taught."
2. Be confident
The dating scene rarely rewards displays of low self-esteem. So it goes without saying, a little bit of confidence helps – although it's not always easy.
Each edudate lasts for 10 minutes. Participants are given a code and a phone number and instructed to remove their photo and name from their WhatsApp profile before proceeding to the video call.
"Because you only get 10 minutes to talk, I think you need to try to be confident," Rogers says.
3. Relax, you are among teachers!
Another lesson that Rogers has learned from his experience in running edudates is that teachers are generally a nice bunch.
He recalls: "When I first started, people online told me that it was a terrible idea, that women were going to be abused and so on, and this has never happened.
"This is partly because I have put in procedures and practices to prevent that, but equally because teachers are nice people."
4. Be a PE teacher
Now this is not an actual tip, but it seems that PE teachers are proving particularly popular during the events.
Why? Rogers isn't sure, but postulates: "I think they tend to be good looking?"
5. Don't date-drive
If there's one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it's that silent judgements will be made about the bookshelf, gin collection and/or abstract art on display behind you. So think about everything your date is seeing when they peer at their screen.
Some teachers have put particular thought into setting the right scene for their date – like the edudater who dialled in from a canoe.
"That was interesting," Rogers says. "But another one tuned in while driving, which I wouldn’t recommend."
And, this might sound obvious, but "try and look reasonable, not like you just got out of bed", he adds.
Wanted: Single male teachers
With the platform showing some promise, Rogers says that there's only one limit to its growth: a shortage of eligible bachelors.
"The only issue I have now going forward is not enough men signing up," he explains.
This follows a sector-wide trend: recent research by the Education Policy Institute found that the proportion of male teachers in secondary schools in England has fallen continuously over the past decade.
Attempts to encourage more male teachers to sign up to the platform have so far failed to yield the desired results - a Twitter ad campaign just got Rogers on to the radar of some unpleasant trolls.
But looking at how well the platform has fared so far, there are reasons to hope it will continue to play matchmaker in the school community.