If, like me, you are a male in the primary teaching industry, you may have noticed that female staff, more often than not, tends to out-number the male staff in large quantities. And if, like me, you have known them teachers for a while, you will often find that good relationships have built, you work well as a team, and you can give as good as you get in a bit of staff room banter. But, as a new (male) teacher in a school full of women, the staff room can be a very daunting place for a shy bloke!
I remember one of my first placements, and apart from the caretaker, and the head (both men), both whom were always busy, the school was run by female staff. Lunchtime was very difficult at the beginning, as I knew nobody, and felt reluctant to interrupt conversations to introduce myself through fear of looking silly. This resulted in many lunchtimes spent sitting in the corner of the staff room, alone, discretely munching away at my sandwich, and filling my water bottle up 100 times in one hour!! Eventually I began liaising with each teacher on class projects. This broke the ice and I was starting to build work relationships. As time grew, the staff realised that I wasn‚Äôt a carrier of Ebola and lunchtimes are now much more comfortable. It is surprising how much ‚Äòdoing a favour‚Äô puts you in good stead with teachers, and If you can get teachers out of a jam, it awards you ‚Äòrock star‚Äô status!! All of the teachers (ladies) are lovely at this school and are very respectful. But what if you are in a school where the staff are quite secluded? If the staff keep themselves to themselves, whether they are male or female?
I found this article (from TES magazine 8th may) of a newly qualified teacher, and his experiences and encounters within his job. This sparked the inspiration for this week‚Äôs blog topic, and it would be interesting after you have read this article to hear the views of both male and female teachers to see what they think.
ANOTHER BABY photo; another photo album of wedding snaps; another engagement ring; another ‚Äúwhat do you think of the colour scheme ‚Äì will it match the chair covers?‚Äù;another ‚ÄúOh no, I shouldn‚Äôt, I‚Äôm on a diet.‚Äù
It can be a slightly isolating experience being the only male teacher in a primary school. Of course, the above is an exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek version of the staffroom. And as a male, newly qualified teacher, I am fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive, maternal team. However, the general topic of conversation in the staffroom does echo some of the above. As I sit there, drinking my tea out of Mrs Smith‚Äôs cup, I have two worries. The first is the unspoken rule about using someone else‚Äôs mug. The second is more serious: I can‚Äôt pretend to be enthusiastically interested in yet another detailed ‚Äúgiving birth‚Äù story. And that puts me in danger of being very disconnected from the rest of the staff.
I have tried to avoid this by making an effort to get to know my colleagues ‚Äì to learn their interests and their hobbies and offer information about myself, too. This certainly helps to steer conversation into more inclusive areas. But the problem still arises. And there is another issue, too; sometimes I find myself becoming the butt of jokes. As I sit munching away on a carrot, I am greeted first by raised eyebrows and then comments such as ‚Äúoh, nice carrot son‚Äù, finished off with a cheeky wink. Of course I take this as a bit of fun. But if I were a 23-year-old girl surrounded by a group of men, would such ‚Äúbanter‚Äù be viewed differently? At a time when we are really struggling to get men into primary schools, I fear for those who make the leap but are turned off the profession by the isolation. I‚Äôll leave you to ponder that one. I‚Äôm off to pass judgement on invitation designs and make comforting and horrified noises about birth stories. I love it.
What are your views on this article?
Please ALL feel free to comment