Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29, NIV
The Staff Lounge: a place to take refuge from a busy classroom, an opportunity to make deeper connections with colleagues, and a space to share God’s light and love.
When I first started teaching, I looked forward to sneaking away for a 30-minute lunch with a group of teachers who had become friends. Over salads, leftovers from the night before, or last-minute school lunch, we got to know each other better, encouraged each other on the hard days, and celebrated our successes at school and in life.
But I know my experience in the staff lounge might not be what others have experienced. Some lounges can come with gossip, cliques, or just a type of energy that doesn’t feel welcoming, inviting, or a safe place of refuge and rest. If this is what you are experiencing or if you just want to elevate your opportunity to connect with others more deeply and regularly, here are three ways to set a new table in the staff lounge:
Be Welcoming. You don’t have to be a veteran teacher to be the lounge greeter. Save a space at your table for someone who hasn’t quite found a group yet. Make a personal invitation for your team or a teacher with whom you feel called to connect. Being a messenger for God may mean going out of your comfort zone a bit, but reaching out to bring others in is always worth the risk.
Be Uplifting. Giving thanks and lifting others up is a great use of time and space in the lounge. You could take time to specifically praise a colleague at the table or help someone reframe a difficult situation. Shifting the lounge talk from gossip to good news can change the culture at the table and the energy in the room.
Be a Listener. If you are blessed enough to get 30 minutes away from directly teaching and leading in the classroom, you could use some of that time to actively listen to others. Giving people at the table time to share their successes and challenges and really leaning in and listening could provide opportunities down the road for building deeper relationships.
So as you pack your lunch or meal prep for the week, think about ways you could make time and create a space in the teacher’s lounge for God!
Have you had an experience in the lounge that allowed you to pray with or over a staff member? Or have you been able to change the conversations from gossip to grace? Please share your ideas in the comments below!