Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Secrets Of The Teachers Lounge Revealed?

Columnist Rona Johnson claims to have the inside scoop on that most mysterious of edumysteries: The Teachers Lounge:
When I was in school, I always wondered what the teachers lounge looked like and what teachers did when they were in there.

All I really knew about it was that the teachers smoked in there. When they opened the door, a cloud of blue smoke would billow out, and the smell of cigarette smoke would fill the air. (This was, of course, before the warnings about the dangers of second-hand smoke.)

I think the teachers knew that students were curious about their private sanctuary and tried to keep it a secret. They would always enter and leave the room so that we couldn't see anything in there, no matter how hard we strained to look. They had the opening-the-door-a-crack-and-slipping-in move down to a science.

I pictured the teachers lounge as a quiet, cavernous space with some teachers resting in big, cushy lounge chairs with their feet up watching soap operas and others huddling around a table playing poker.

I always wondered what they talked about when they were in the teachers lounge. Did they discuss our behavior? Were they in the lounge making voodoo dolls of the kids who were always acting up?

Maybe they just talked about the good kids?

Yeah right.

I got my first taste of life in the teachers lounge when I went to the Roseau (Minn.) Community Schools on Monday.

I was doing a story on the school's artist-in-residence program, which is administered by third-grade teacher Elwyn Ruud. She asked if I would like to hang around and have lunch in the teachers lounge.

I tried to not to sound overly eager, or act like I'd never been in a teachers lounge before, so I casually said, "Sure, that would be great."

I don't know if times have changed, but the teachers lounge at the Roseau school was not as mysterious as I had imagined a teachers lounge to be when I was a child.

First of all, there was no smoking, which I knew before I entered Roseau school. There aren't many places smokers can go anymore, and certainly not in schools.

Also, the door to the teachers lounge was open. There was no cloak-and-dagger, sneaking-in-and-out going on.

The lounge was tiny, with no comfy lounge chairs, no television and no cards. In fact, the space was so small I had to sit at the corner of one of the tables to eat my lunch.

And, when I was in there, nobody was talking about the students. For some odd reason, the teachers all seemed to be engaged in discussions about their own lives.

One teacher brought in treats for everybody because she had been out of school for a while after having knee surgery. Unfortunately, there were no treats left by the time I got there. Just like at the Herald, the early bird gets the worm when it comes to treats.

What I thought was really strange was that the teachers lounge is not the quiet haven that I had imagined. I thought it was supposed to be a place where teachers could get away and relax without the din of hundreds of children's voices.

But, oddly enough, I found that the teachers lounge to be just as noisy as the student's lunchroom.

I guess it might be a good thing that the teachers lounge isn't a cozy, quiet place. If it were, teachers probably would be tempted to spend all day in there.

And I really wouldn't blame them. After walking through the halls as the children - hundreds of them talking, laughing and yelling - were getting ready to go outside for recess, I was anxious to get out to the quiet confines of my truck.
Actually, one of our Operatives in the North Star State has revealed to us that Ms. Johnson wasn't shown the real Teachers Lounge, but only a cheap mock-up that the public is allowed to see.

Everyone in public education knows that an authentic Teachers Lounge employs a full-time staff of attractive and well-accomplished masseurs/masseuses who are charged with relieving the stress that nearly all teachers endure on a day-to-day basis.

And we won't even talk about what's for sale in the various machines that are found in the Lounge's restrooms.
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