From the forums - Getting on, eccentricity and going gadget mad

18th February 2011 at 00:00
Masking feelings, staffroom characters and utensils are all whisked up online

Getting on with colleagues is near the top of many people's workplace concerns, and teachers have been turning to the TES online forums to discuss how best to negotiate relationships in the staffroom.

Kibosh asks if it is better to hide your feelings towards your colleagues, or to show them. Coffeekid is in no doubt. Unless you like the person in question, masking your feelings is the best option. "If you can't bear them, politeness will do," she says.

The only time when you can really say what you feel is in your leaving speech, says cyolba, but that is not without its risks. "Even that can come back to bite you on the arse, since education is a very small and heavily interconnected little community," warns cyolba.

Does this mean it is better to be two-faced, asks kibosh. It may seem hypocritical, but marshypops argues it is only being realistic: "Working with others requires us to be polite and professional at all times and that 'speaking as you find' would upset too many apple carts."

Staffroom characters come to the fore when posters share memories of their most eccentric teachers. Magic surf bus recalls the music teacher who used to cycle to school in all weathers, often accompanied. "Some days he'd bring his pet goat with him, tied to the bike with a length of string and trotting for miles behind him down country lanes." He also built a sleeping box under his desk for tired pupils, and would take his class on a hunt for idlers in the corridors.

Many of the stories revolve around alcohol, although mzuzu had a maths teacher who could juggle and balance a chair on his chin at the same time, while cosmos's story comes from a more innocent - and smokier - age: "I had a wonderful French teacher who wore his gown at all times and chain-smoked through every lesson brushing ash off his chest with half a finger, just like Dave Allen."

Are there still these sorts of characters around? Not everyone is convinced. "Some students are very mistrustful of eccentricity," says inky.

Question time: kibosh wants to know which kitchen gadget or utensil you could not do without. For enthusiastic cake-maker bombaysapphire it is an electric whisk, while for Bethannie it is her slow-cooker. But the utensil Bauble could not do without is slightly more organic: "Mrs B."

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