I (Eve) have been working as a teacher since Easter. I was new to teaching so I didn't expect my new colleagues to fall at my feet in gratitude when I walked into the staffroom for the first time but neither did I expect the degree of social isolation that I experienced.
The first few weeks were distinctly unpleasant. The staffroom was dominated by what I can only describe as a small clique of hard-line snobs. If your clothes, car, address or subject specialism wasn't to their liking then you were a nobody.
What I don’t get is why this adolescent sort of behaviour has to translate into professional ladies teaching in a school. I have no problem issue with women bonding with each other over common interests or experiences and there is much solace and comfort to be gained from sharing. But does this have to come at the expense of the feelings of those that are not part of the sharing? Why does clique membership have to be based on such trivial issue as where a person lives?
Bonding through a mutual dislike for others perhaps less fortunate than the other clique members is anything but positive. Surely the endless sniping and creating barriers and territories is short-sighted and entirely against what teaching should be about?
There is only one person teaching psychology in the school and as she was about my age I though we would have things in common so I made overtures of friendship towards her. When she was on her own she was lovely but as soon as one of the clique came into the staffroom she would get up, even in the middle of a conversation with me, to sit with them. From "moving towards being a friend" to "ignore all outsiders" in a blink of an eye.
It was starting to annoy me and I was seriously thinking about not using the staffroom but this felt like letting the clique "win". Instead last week I managed to persuade some colleagues from the Maths and Science Department to slightly change their routine and we went "mob-handed" at morning break and "occupied" the cliques chosen corner. As our base is slightly nearer to the staffroom than it is for the humanities clique we can always get there first.
It should make for an interesting few days!