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How To Scope Out A Potential Teachers’ Room

If a school has answered a variety of questions to your satisfaction, you may proceed to the step of visiting. On that occasion, you’ll probably have the chance to view the teachers’ room, which is one more thing you can use to assess a school.

The teachers room is like a secret lair – it’s off limits to a large portion of the population, it swarms with important activity at times and is dead silent at others. There is mystery surrounding it. Well, there is if you make up exciting and suspenseful stories to tell you classes about what goes on in there.

But how to know what to expect? What’s does a “good” teachers’ room look like?

  • There are a lot of papers (stacks), including scraps of cut up papers. An especially together teachers room may even have these collected in one place so people can share and save themselves the trouble of cutting up more paper (this is rare though and not a deal-breaker in my book).
  • Tons of dulled pencils abound, but no pencil sharpeners.
  • Several shiny, heavy, weapon-like staplers and rows of staple refills scattered throughout the room.
  • At least one scary guillotine, ideally without any blood, severed fingers, or rust.
  • Some well-organized resources on the shelves and some on desks, both hidden under papers and hiding important things themselves. All kidding aside, look for a variety of resources and not just sets of the same textbook. Page through several if you can – if it’s a language school you are bound to need activities which appear fun (and ideally which actually are fun and useful both).
  • The remnants of takeaway lunches. Mainly in the garbage, but possibly elsewhere.
  • Swivel chairs, on occasion with names written on the back in WhiteOut or “liquid paper” as my non-North American colleagues are bound to call it. I’d advise looking for approximately as many chairs as there are full-time teachers and hopefully a few more – and I’m not kidding. It’s not like you need your own reserved place (use WhiteOut if you want to be sure!) but there’s something amiss if a school that employs lots of part-timers has only four chairs in the teachers room. You can do some prep at home to be sure, but you have to do some at school as well – do you want to do it in a classroom with students filtering in, or standing? It’s not just a matter of chairs but a school that is prepared to provide a fairly normal environment for its teachers to work in.
  • Empty three ring binders.
  • If you’re lucky, a copy machine that speaks English, or better yet, two or three. It might be down the hall in the copy room and it might speak a random Nordic language. In a school with six to eight full time teachers who frequently teach at the same time, two copy machines seems to me a minimum – and that is when both are working. I wouldn’t forgo a school simply due to lack of a sufficient number of copy machines, but this is a fairly integral tool of the trade, so as with a shortage of chairs and desk space, think carefully about a school without enough.

Did I miss anything?