A fortnight-long staffroom boycott was a wonderful experience. It was last month I that I decided to stay away from the staffroom for a while. This wasn’t because I’d fallen out with anyone or was avoiding anyone – it was about trying something different.
I was beginning to feel a bit run down approaching the end of the school year; with paperwork coming out of my ears, going to the staffroom started to feel counterproductive. I would just sit there and think that I could be back in my classroom getting on with stuff.
So, a staffroom “boycott” was what I decided on in an effort to feel less rundown – and here’s what I found from doing it:
*I had time to read! I love going to my local library and choosing a novel but with two small children my time is minimal when it comes to reading for enjoyment. I used some of my lunches to do just that-focus on an escape. Actually having a solid 20-30 minutes of reading time meant I could really get into the story and enjoy it. It didn’t feel rushed and still left me enough time to eat and toilet. I actually found my mood in the afternoon was better and I felt less tired too.
A former head's plea: ‘Bring back staffrooms and long lunchtimes’
Acing time management: Six tips for teachers
Essential reading: The top 10 education books of 2018
The contended teacher: Nine things all satisfied teachers feel
*I went out on walks. I also decided to use this time to get out and work towards the 10,000-step total. I found these walks to be comforting. Fresh air always helps me clear my head from a busy morning and set me up for the day ahead. I again found that I had more energy in the afternoon and that I was in a better mood. It reminded me of a club I started in a previous establishment for staff called Wednesday Walkers – I remembered the benefits that this physical activity used to bring to us and I’ll definitely be starting that again.
*I played with children. On two of the days during the “boycott” there was glorious sunshine. I decided to go out to the playground and play with some of the children. It was so nice being part of unstructured play, especially with those children I no longer teach. The past relationships built really came out and we had a ball. Again, after playing, I had more energy in the afternoon.
In the weeks following my “boycott” I have gone back to the staffroom and it has been nice catching up with colleagues socially and eating with people is nicer than solitary eating. I don’t go in every day – I’ve made sure to protect a couple of lunchtimes a week for reading or walking. On the whole, my mood and energy levels are better in the afternoon and I'm certainly in a better place after school for any collegiate activities.
If you’re feeling rundown throughout the school day, then, think about a simple change of habit – make a couple of lunchtimes a week just for you.
Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland who, in the New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23