Ah yes, I remember it well. In the old building, it was in the basement. Three flights down a set of stairs that should have been condemned years prior. Between classes, a dash for a cigarette (yes, 1 1/2 minutes is enough time to light, inhale, exhale, and head back upstairs!). Lunch? A time to try and blot out the aroma of the phys. ed. class taking place just around the corner (and of course, another cigarette or two!). Planning period? Ah, the entire reason for survival. During this time we planned quickly and then communed with each other. I remember the time spent trying to "humanize" a new teacher. (He didn't smoke. He didn't swear. I mean, really!) I remember the time spent discussing the best method of not committing acts of violence on students who were pushing our buttons. But mostly, I remember the unshakable bonds that were formed during this 50 minute period. It was here that we recognized the humanity in each other and established a life-long bond that exceeded normal friendships. Of course, I should note, it was also during this time frame that on occasion I would simply join my female friends in the women's lounge on third floor--much to the chagrin of one female teacher who didn't yet realize the benefits of coeducational elucidation! But that's another story for another blog! On several occasions, the teachers' lounge saved a life--sometimes a student--most times, one of us!
Then we moved to the new building. The teachers' lounge was just on the other side of the office. With pass through mail boxes in between. Not exactly sound proof. But we managed on occasion to avoid too much criticism. The bonding continued. Cross-word puzzles. Anecdotes. And that one day we sang Stars and Stripes Forever, each of us taking a different instrumental part. Let me tell you, it was awesome. It was again time to be adults having fun. Due to its location, however, the consensus of opinion on the other side of the mail boxes was perhaps we were not setting the best example for the students in the office. The lounge became a work room. It may have been more politically correct. But it wasn't as humanistic!
We soon moved over to the big house, integrating into the existing confines, and rarely spent time together. There was a women's lounge, but it was sacrosanct. Even I didn't attempt to integrate. I think there was a mens' lounge as well. But, I know this will come as a surprise to you, I didn't have many hunting, trapping, or fishing stories to share. My saving grace? I shared my room with an amazing woman with amazing children, and another bond was formed. Mostly, planning periods were spent in there!
Why, you might ask, do I think of that now? It's been over 11 years since I've taught. Since you asked, I can tell you. I was out for lunch with my beautiful bride today. On a whim, I ordered a glass of wine. It was a generous pour. It was delicious. And I realized one more thing about the teachers' lounge. How much better would it have been if it had lived up to its name?! A little wine might have made the day move more smoothly. And doc says, it's good for me! Just a thought!!!!!!