Oh my God- she is SO dumb! (side eye at another coworker).
I saw him leave at 3:30… He must not be committed to his job! (motions to Social Studies classroom).
She showed up 5 minutes late to the meeting – how disrespectful! (text sent during a staff meeting to the woman sitting directly next to you).
(Through bites of leftover tacos from the night before) He is such a jackass! (Flips him off as he is exiting the staff lounge)
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then you must be a teacher. A staff lounge is a scary place filled with moldy, mystery refrigerator items that no one claims all year, decorations that are collecting dust, and coffee mugs that date back farther than the school itself.
I am not the type of person that can live and thrive in negativity. I cannot bear to swim in it all day long! Too many sad or horrible things happen to us or to “our kids” throughout the school day to even put one ounce of extra effort into being negative. I have decided to cultivate a business-like relationship with my coworkers. I don’t want friends – I want reliable staff who has my back and has the students’ backs.
Here is what I have found works with these toxic or negative workspaces:
1.) Straight up avoid
We teach our kids to face their problems with bravery, but when it comes to negative nelly’s, I straight-up avoid those people. If they eat my lunch shift, looks like I’m eating alone. I would rather isolate myself than partake in a toxic school culture that breeds bad bacteria that erodes the integrity of our staff. Be like Ron. Think: WWRSD? What Would Ron Swanson Do?
2.) If a conversation takes a turn for the worse, don’t say anything and start playing on your phone
Even if you are mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed, it’s better than being “the middle man”. This works only if you are in a group of more than 3 people because the negative nelly can turn their frustration on the others in the vicinity of their rath. This method does NOT work in smaller crowds because you will become the person they vomit their words at!
3.) If you are somehow roped into a “shit-talk” conversation, I like to pull the “Smile and wave, boys” move
If this move is performed correctly, the assailant will eventually grow tired and venture off to find someone who will fuel their rage fire. Just continue nodding your head without using words. Maybe throw in an “mmhmm” every once in a while to trick your predator into thinking you are listening.
4.) If you are in a staff meeting and seemingly trapped with that one old guy who seems to question and hate everything developed within the last century, leave to “use the restroom”. Fake an emergency call. GET OUT!
Don’t even play with me – you know exactly what kind of guy I’m talking about. Usually, his name is “Matt” or “Martin”. Excuse yourself by whatever means necessary! Oh, your grandmother just died? Better go! You suddenly have the urge to use the restroom. You need to take an important call from your lawyer. ANYTHING.
5.) Tell your administration.
I’ve never had to use this one because I am SO GOOD at number one. But, if you can’t control your circumstances, tell someone in charge. And if your administration is negative too, at least you tried! At the end of the day, you can have dignity and pride in knowing you are a good person trying the best you can.