When I first started teaching, I remember receiving the advice (more than once) to avoid the teachers’ lounge. They would tell me to stay away because it was a negative environment where people only go to complain.
Of course, being a new teacher, I just smiled and nodded, but I always felt that was unfair advice to give someone starting out. If all of the positive and optimistic teachers are told to stay out of the lounge, of course it is going to be a negative place! Maya Angelou said that “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it” and I think this is true! If you want the teachers’ lounge to be a positive space, you first have to encourage the positive staff members to go there. You also have to create a space for teachers that promotes collaboration, inspiration, celebration, and humor!
Below you will find 10 ideas to make your teachers’ lounge a more positive space:
1. Set up a Staff Kudos Board
I once had a principal who left notes of appreciation (and a small treat) in teachers’ mailboxes for little things she had noticed teachers doing (staying late at school working, helping out at an after-school event, giving extra help at lunch etc.). It was such a small gesture, but it had a dramatic impact on the morale of the staff. Bring this kind of positivity into your teachers’ lounge by setting up a “Staff Kudos Board” where staff members can give kudos to their colleagues to congratulate, support, or show appreciation.
2. Teacher Quotes
Brighten up your teachers’ lounge with posters that have inspirational and humorous quotes related to teaching. You can also pick up some cheap frames from a dollar store to make the posters really pop (see the picture below with frames that were $3.00 each!).
Print and laminate teacher quote bookmarks to have available in the staffroom for teachers to take as a gift! You simply need to make a little paper pocket, stick it up on the wall, and put the bookmarks in it for teachers to grab! Check these posters and bookmarks out by clicking HERE.
3. Birthday Celebrations
Celebrate staff birthdays by setting up a birthday bulletin board display in your teachers lounge. In each of the months, have a picture of the staff member so people can easily see whose birthday is that month!
4. Teacher Of The Month
Celebrate staff members by setting up a “Teacher of the Month” bulletin board display in your lounge. Put a picture of the staff member up and fill out this sheet with information on why this teacher was selected, what words describe them, and a funny memory. Also included is a space for a colleague and a student to write a quote about the teacher! At the end of the month, laminate the sheet and give it to the teacher to keep.
5. Monthly Potlucks
In my experience, yummy food always brings out the best in people. Make the last Friday of every month (or every second month) a potluck lunch in the teachers’ lounge! Put out a potluck sign-up sheet on the Monday before in the staffroom. Download these free potluck forms by clicking HERE.
Robert Orben said, “If you can laugh together, you can work together.” It is so true that laughter can transform the atmosphere of a teachers’ lounge and bring staff members closer. To encourage a little laughter, have a bulletin board dedicated to all things funny. You can print out teacher memes, education related comic strips, or even have a cheesy Joke of the Week display.
7. Memory Board
One way to get positive discussions going in your staffroom is to create a memory board where pictures are posted of teachers and school events from years past. This allows staff to reminisce about good times and even share a few laughs about old hair or fashion styles. You might also want to put up current pictures so newer staff members are also included. Allow teachers to add pictures to the board throughout the year!
8. Share Teaching Ideas
Set up an area in your staffroom where teachers can share teaching ideas, websites, articles, lesson ideas, videos or books with their fellow colleagues. I use the title “Teaching Tidbits” and leave cards where teachers can jot down their suggestion and post them.
9. Wall Calendar
Have a big calendar on the wall where teachers can add information about upcoming school or social events that teachers are invited to attend. This will make staff members feel like a community and keep everyone in the loop on what is going on and what is coming up!
10. Create an Atmosphere
Setting up a cozy and warm atmosphere can help change the tone of a staffroom. This one can be trickier because it does require some money (which we all know is not always at our disposal), but if you can find some cash in the budget, here are a few ways that you can easily spruce up your lounge.
- Add a fresh coat of paint (consider choosing a warm color or painting one wall with a pop of color).
- Put centerpieces or runners on the staffroom table(s).
- Add comfortable/flexible seating (if you can’t afford bigger items, consider adding comfy pillows to existing seating).
- Have plants that are easy to keep alive :).
- If possible, avoid florescent lighting in favor of lamps with a warmer light.
Let’s make the teachers’ lounge a place that you can proudly recommend to new teachers as a place of collaboration, positivity, and support. Click to check out my ==> Teachers’ Lounge Decor Bundle. If you have any other suggestions, please comment below!