You know the type

25th October 2013 at 01:00
Anxious newbie, super-efficient leader, agony aunt: we all recognise colleagues like these. But what about you? Surely you're not so easily pigeonholed? To find out who you really are, take the TES Connect online quiz. Meanwhile, Craig Ennew describes some common staffroom stereotypes

Professional development is a journey of self-discovery. Although we all like to think we're unique, everyone has to admit that the same "types" appear in staffrooms the world over.

But while it may be easy to spot a Suzie Newbie-Q or a Carole Comfy-Cardy among your colleagues, it's harder to admit that you yourself might be an uncomfortably snug fit for either of these.

To ease yourself along the path of psychological profiling, simply take TES' light-hearted quiz. Written by teacher Craig Ennew, the 10 questions will reveal your character profile and enable you to work out which staffroom stereotype you most closely resemble.

We're not claiming that the descriptions are 100 per cent accurate but they are a lot of fun. Failing that, just enjoy their occasionally uncomfortable level of detail.

Over the coming weeks, Staffroom Stereotypes will appear as a regular column in TES Professional. But we're kicking off the series here with the first four. Have a read and then go online to find out what "type" you are.

Suzie Newbie-Q

One bleak, rain-lashed Sunday night, Suzie Newbie-Q's dad drops her off - with her belongings wrapped in a Hello Kitty duvet - at her new "home". It's a damp, rented hovel on the crappiest side of town, near the railway station and surrounded by seedy pubs. She's terrified.

Walking into the staffroom on Day 1 is like stepping into the lion's den, strapped from head to toe, Lady Gaga-style, in raw meat. Keen to make friends, but anxious not to offend, Suzie chooses a chair in a remote corner of the room that looks unlikely to belong to anyone. Cliques of teachers fill spaces, grumbling their way into another academic year, but one or two flash her sympathetic smiles.

Those first weeks are tough, but our heroine survives despite her professional mentor's assumption that she can absorb every minor procedure and policy detail simply by osmosis. She befriends some fellow newbies and they all work like Trojans. She overdoes it at the pub on Thursday nights and realises that Friday's ensuing hoarse voice and vile temper could be the best weapon for effective classroom management she has yet discovered.

A term in, and Suzie is winning the "Who fronts the most new activities?" competition. Classes have become more familiar - some of them too familiar - and she has had a couple of breakthrough moments with young Derek that reminded her of why she went into teaching in the first place. She's even getting used to planning lessons through to the dawn chorus.

By now, she's also established a seat in the corner of the staffroom populated by the young `uns, which she shares on rotation with two other newly qualified teachers. In time, she thinks that some of the old guard might even deign to speak to her, if only to tell her that the recurring dream she has about having to teach naked in front of a group of uncontrollable 15- and 16-year-olds never goes away.

Steve Super-Head

"I promise you this," Steve Super-Head proclaims. "My imminent appointment as acting head at Sinkfast Community School will not impinge one bit on my complete commitment to the continued success of our own academy."

For two months, rumours have circled the staffroom, fuelled by Steve's absence for days on end, the hopeful glint in the deputy's eye and talk of an impending meltdown. Meanwhile, the rumour-mongers have been waiting, like vultures, to feast. And now the truth: Steve is very much alive and well and is set to become leader of a second ailing school.

Admittedly, the first school's turnaround has been remarkable. Out went dusty old Jean, the headteacher who oversaw two decades of slow decline, and in storm-trooped Steve and his crack team of headhunted suits. They promoted the wheat, they made the chaff reapply for their jobs and they waterboarded unsuspecting middle managers with rivers of data. There were even rumours of private audiences with education secretary Michael Gove himself.

After the big announcement, appearances by Steve are noteworthy for their brevity and drama. Each one brings a jaw-dropping decree: longer days, tighter targets, the bulldozing of the staffroom and, finally, the merger with Sinkfast.

"Nothing changes," Steve tells confused parents, in a webcast intended to be reassuring. It's then another two weeks before he is seen again, this time scattering a crowd of mooching 14- and 15-year-old students from the school gates with his brand-new, top-of-the-range 4x4.

That morning, while Steve delivers an assembly entitled "Bigger, better, stronger", one teacher turns to her colleague and whispers fearfully: "Look at his eyes. I swear to God they've turned red."

And as staff and students look on silently, with increasing dread, they see it for themselves: Steve Super-Head is no longer Steve. He is Clone of Steve, one of many. and he is coming soon to a school near you.

Carole Comfy-Cardy

Everyone likes Carole Comfy-Cardy. She's the one who'll ask you about your plans for the summer and actually listen to the answer. She talks to everyone and falls out with no one. The younger kids are happy to be mothered by her; the older ones might muck her about but they always turn to her with issues or insecurities.

OK, so she'll never be a model of corporate efficiency or ruthless ambition. She can't be bothered with her wardrobe for a start. Friendship, being a good listener, fluffy slippers - these are the things that really matter to her.

And none of that will stop her from keeping up with the marking. Each evening, those exercise books are crammed into her I'm Not a Plastic Bag, along with the supermarket ready-meal, some knitting, ignored bills and those photos from her walking holiday. As long as she has that last book marked before EastEnders' opening credits, the world will keep turning. And then it's feet up, a generous glass of dry white and Albert Square here we come.

If there's nothing much on after that, she'll keep the telly on in the background, plan some lessons, maybe update her status on Facebook. Someone's usually added a comment or a "like" to one of her posts, she finds. After all, everyone likes Carole.

Henrietta Hobby-Teacher

Colleagues have started to dread Tuesday lunchtimes. It's the time when Henrietta Hobby-Teacher breezes into the staffroom with her iPhone 5, showing off digital snaps of her long weekend break in Cannes.

For the third year running, her successful efforts at keeping Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays teaching-free have perpetuated a situation where the entire school timetable seems to be constructed around what she calls her "philanthropic routine".

On Mondays, when she's not travelling home from a mini-break, she runs Zumba fitness classes for the homeless. Thursdays currently find her campaigning to be elected as local councillor for the borough.

But teaching - or "my little project" as she likes to call it - is the one thing that makes her feel truly blessed. She is helping to guide the moral compasses of young people. To shape their sense of purpose and self- esteem. Working together for a better tomorrow.

For our Henrietta adores the school and her students. She is the first to defend the state-school system and is willingly prepared to give as much as a third of a timetable to such an honourable cause.

Teaching is most definitely not about the money. She could give up shopping at Boden and Phase Eight tomorrow. And besides, as she tells her girlfriends at book club, hubby Piers' new position at Goldman Sachs means that there's no material need to work at all, really.

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