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The Breakroom as a Positive Space

How to help cultivate an uplifting environment with your coworkers

For teachers, the breakroom serves many purposes. It's your place to wolf down the microwaved lunch you only have five minutes to eat (maybe), the place to fight with the copy machine when it says it's jammed for the fifth time today, or to bargain for more printer paper from other departments when your supply or budget has run out.

Ideally, it's also a safe space to talk to your fellow educators, to vent, to uplift one another, and to just talk to other adults for once. Here are some practical ways to create a positive space in your breakroom and cultivate an environment of trust and empathy:

Building trust starts with listening.

Pay attention when your coworkers mention their families, their worries, and their successes. Show you care by remembering those little details and asking about them later. Let them know the small things matter, so that when big things arise, they may have more confidence in having a voice.

Avoid sensitive student information.

Everyone needs someone to vent to when it's been a difficult day at work. But the breakroom isn't a great forum for some more sensitive information when it comes to students. Be vigilant about protecting student privacy and avoid conversations that could jeopardize confidentiality. Here are some tips on FERPA to keep in mind.

Share successes.

It's ok to brag here. It's even better to brag on your coworkers. Creating an environment of shared success helps other people feel more comfortable talking about their own wins (which can translate to more confidence in the workplace overall). Plus, it's just a more positive conversation to have. Give someone a kudos, ask them about an accomplishment, lift one another up.

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