Where do you eat your lunch?

Dr. Mark Naison posted this yesterday on the Facebook Opt Out page:

“Just received confirmation from a former student that during training, TFA tells is Corps members not to interact with veteran teachers at the schools they are placed in and not to eat in the Faculty Cafeteria because those teachers are “jaded.” ”

If there were really any more proof needed that TFA and its privatizing buddies were out of touch with real education, real teachers, and real schools – we have it here!

I have not had lunch in the Faculty Room in over 2 years. This is not because I don’t enjoy the company of my colleagues, it’s because the policies of  Race to the Top have destroyed  collegiality  among teachers.

It used to be, once upon a time, that the Faculty Room lunch was a place to get to know the newly hired teachers in your building, to share a laugh, to talk about how to address students’ needs, how to motivate students, to share successes, to get advice, to be PEOPLE that cared about one another.

The Faculty Room was the place where sympathy cards, birthday cards, get well cards and retirement cards were left for signing because everyone went there. It was the place where you could find a lively debate about politics, the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys, the Emmys, educational practices, sports teams, or even simply which is better – coffee or tea! It was a place full of loud voices, shared laughs, and sometimes quiet tears. We walked in knowing that there would be “friend” there.

Now, the Faculty Room is a ghost town. The newspapers still litter the long tables, but most days they are still perfectly folded at 3 PM. If not for a copy machine, a soda machine, and our mailboxes, I would hazard to guess that someone would be considering making it an office!

Why has this changed? Do we suddenly care less about one another as people? NO! We have been bombarded with policy changes that have made us competitors and not collaborators. School administrators may say that they have encouraged and even developed Professional Learning Communities in the name of collaboration for the benefit of our students, but the reality is that each of us stands alone at evaluation time with the scores of our students looming overhead. In fact,  think about this – our lunch times have even been scheduled (in many cases) to PREVENT us from talking to someone who is not in our PLC! We are encouraged to use our lunch time to meet with our PLC – under the guise of a “relaxing atmosphere in which to discuss student outcomes and analyze data.” Talk about an appetite suppressant!

If we’re not meeting with our PLC, then most of us are sitting at our desk with a cup of yogurt, or a piece of fruit reading the emails that have been piling up in our inboxes or working on our SLOs or grading interim tests, or collecting “evidence” of our professionalism or communicating with parents. Conversations about our “real lives” happen in quick snippets between classes or after school in classrooms with the doors closed – lest it be discovered that we are NOT analyzing data. Cutting us off from one another is a means to an end – the END of a school community, the END of public education.

We have lost our way as a collective group of people who will “see us through”. We don’t have the “group history” that once had.  We have been forced into a world much like The Hunger Games – kill or be killed………all for the enjoyment of those in the Capital.

12 thoughts on “Where do you eat your lunch?

  1. dbpigtail

    Thank you, Antique Teacher, for always adding a genuine voice to the disturbing trends we are reading about in education. The news stories keep informing us about all of these reforms, but we never really hear how it affects real people. We need more voices like yours to bring the human element back into the picture. And to keep us from becoming even more disconnected from one another. As a parent, it’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking only about my child, and how he is affected by all of this. Sometimes I forget to think about how his teachers feel and how they are affected. I always know that this mess isn’t their fault. But we all need to realize that there are very few winners in this mess. Right now, it’s not the children. And it’s not the teachers. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling at a disheartening all-time low right now–pretty helpless, pretty hopeless, like I have no voice. So to hear your voice helps bring some fight back into me. Thank you.

    1. Old time teacher

      In my school we don’t even have a teacher workroom or faculty room anymore. Every room, including closets, are being used all all times by someone “reteaching” students who don’t make the test scores desired. Those students miss out on extracurricular activities, such as music and physical education. There is no down time for them and there literally is no where for teachers to get together for any reason.

  2. Michelle

    Amazingly said! I’m going to share with my colleagues. Sad but true. Thanks for continuing to bring light to the darkness that has been closing in for years now.

  3. Kuhio Kane

    And those in the Capitol with the capital. It’s all about the money now and it has taken collegiality and tossed it out the front doors of most schools. My wife had to explain to her principal what VAM is. What CCSS will be doing to kids, kurriculum, and kommunity. I never had much time to lounge in a faculty room. But, we did stick together as an interrelated team both personally as well as academically. Right around NCLB came around, teachers became more scrutinized, and curriculum programs were changing almost monthly. Nothing worked except for the onus it put on the teacher and the pressure to work to the ever changing rules. Thanks for this piece, Antique Teacher. What you say is mightily true. And sad.

  4. csizma

    I feel the depression every day. I fear that there is no hope for our future generation of teachers, students and public education. This is the worst I have ever felt about the future of our country in my entire life. Teachers are divided, students are over tested and there is a sense of doom and gloom in our schools. I am ready to throw in the towel and change careers. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t fight for something that I can’t win. I can’t compete against billionaires that lie about everything. They are going to succeed in making people feel like they are too dumb to go to college because they can’t do well on a standardized test. They are going to succeed in telling these students that they will be ok making $12-$15 per hour with minimal benefits. They are winning and I don’t think I can fight any more.

    1. antiqueteacher60 Post author

      There are far too many of “us” feeling the same way…I know that I’m counting the years( 5 til I can retire) , but until then, someone has to fight………and every little bit helps! Don’t give up!

  5. katie sucha

    Hi there!
    TFA alumna here. I have never heard anything like this. In fact, I was encouraged to seek out veteran teachers during this time. Actually, it was my school district that did not like teachers socializing during lunch, and required that we sit with and manage our students during the 25 minute period. Maybe it’s a regional or district thing?

    1. antiqueteacher60 Post author

      Just so we can get an idea of the “regional or district” premise: Where did you spend your years as a TFA teacher………rural, urban,what general area of the country? And, even more pressing in my mind is this question: How long did you stay? I assume you are no longer teaching since you used the word “alumna”>


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