What keeps me awake at night - A staffroom full of big brats

17th June 2011 at 01:00
Anonymous views from education's front line

This week: a senior leader at a school in south-west England.

If there is one thing that keeps me awake at night, or causes me to lurch awake from a nightmare dripping with cold sweat, it is the thought of the behaviour problems I will encounter at school the next day.

Not from our challenging students or more difficult parents. No, from the teaching staff.

A typical day in my life as a senior leader involves all sorts of work to stop these so-called adults from fighting and squabbling.

Picture a glorious morning, the kind of day that makes you glad to be alive. But as I arrive at school, the dawn chorus is drowned out by two middle-aged teachers arguing over a parking space.

Yes, I know that sometimes parking can be at a premium in schools, but this is early on a Monday morning when there are acres of tarmac to choose from. But, no, not any parking space will do - they both want the same one.

When the kids on bikes arrive for lessons, I ask them if they ever get annoyed when their usual spot is taken. "I think there are more important things to worry about, Sir, don't you?" they reply.

As I sit down to a meeting, insults still drifting through the open window, a colleague tells me that staff relations are actually better now than they used to be.

"A few years ago you took your life in your hands if you dared sit in someone else's chair in the staffroom, and you would never dream of using another person's mug at breaktime. But things have changed now and it's all fairly relaxed."

Really? So is this memo in my pigeonhole a joke then? Entitled "Why Trainee Teachers Should Be Put Down", a grumbling colleague complains that there are too many student teachers in the school, and that as a result the other teachers have lost their chairs in the staffroom. Give me strength.

Thankfully, lessons begin, so I can take a break from the adults bickering. But once the bell announces breaktime the madness resumes.

An angry teacher and a very sorry-looking Year 8 pupil arrive at my office door. Without a knock, a "Hello" or a "How are you?", they enter the room. The teacher proceeds to tell me how naughty the boy has been and, as it is now the teacher's breaktime, it's my job to deal with it. Off they hurry for a coffee and a sit-down (moving twice as fast as they will on the return journey).

But, crisis over and child sent on his way, there is finally a chance for me to grab a cuppa. Or not. "HANDS OFF MY MUG," screams the note stuck to the only cup left in the staffroom.

To tell us what terrifies you or to share the unscripted events that have happened in your classroom, email michael.shaw@tes.co.uk.

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