The "teachers playing board games during lunch" activity is a relatively recent development at our school. Jennifer Balido-Cadavez explained the history of it for me.
We actually started this waaay before the holidays when Tina [Voltsinis] was asking what games were good for her daughters for Christmas. I mentioned the game Spot It and it just so happened that [Diana] Hong has a few sets at school. Steve [Tong], Dean [Roberts] Farah [Wadia], Hong, Tina and I began playing them for fun and then from there it just became a weekly habit during lunch! ... It actually was all about Spot It and various versions Hong had in her class then we expanded to the games you offered to us ... The vibe lightens up when we play, a bunch of good laughs are heard, competitiveness is shown, new connections to others are made and overall we just have a lot of fun!
How serendipitous that we had that visit by Board Game Bliss to our school - I know many of our staff members have ordered games from them and as Jen mentioned, we've started to try out some of these games during lunch. Many of us realize that, despite the demands on our time, especially with report cards looming, we need a mental health break just like the students.
Imagine for board game lunch! @MzMollyTL @tinavolt @wonderoom @AgnesMacphailPS pic.twitter.com/a2tvpKr0as— Jen Balido-Cadavez (@jenabee_c) January 10, 2019
What reinforced this idea and pushed me to turn it into a blog post was Rolland Chidiac's question on Twitter. (Note for those using assistive technology to read this post: the embedded Twitter image says "Teachers: Do you eat in your staff room? If not, why? If so, why?" and my answer below says "I do eat in my staff room. Why? We have LEWIS (lunch every Wednesday is salad) where teachers bring items. Space is big enough. Good time to relax (lately teachers have been playing board games at lunch). We do have lunch clubs and need to mark but we go up briefly")
I do eat in my staff room. Why? We have LEWIS (lunch every Wednesday is salad) where Ts bring items. Space is big enough. Good time to relax (lately Ts have been playing board games at lunch). We do have lunch clubs & need to mark but we go up briefly— Diana Maliszewski (@MzMollyTL) January 12, 2019
I checked the responses to Rolland's thread, as there were many, and there were different answers and explanations, as you can imagine.
Those who replied YES said it was because
- it was a place to destress / decompress / unwind (Melinda) (Alisha) (John) (Lisa)
- it was a safe, positive space (Lisa)
- it offered time to connect (Sharon)
- for pot lucks and soup days (Jim) and other treats/food (Kelly) (Lynn)
- students are in the class for lunch so no time to prep in there (Laurel)
- it was a place for adult conversation (Claudia) (Elizabeth) (Karen)
- for consolidating friendships / relationships (Ken) and professional dialogue (Anne)
- it was a place to have fun and recharge (Amy) (Katherine)
- it was a place to share ideas / strategies / resources and learn about students / each other informally (Ray) (Spencer)
- it's a time where they don't talk about school (Sarah) (Leann)
- of the same reasons kids eat with their friends (Drew)
Those who replied NO said it was because
- it was a place of gossip (Melinda) (Ms. R), drama / negativity (Michele)
- use time instead to plan or offer student activities or allow students equitable digital access (Paolo) (Danesa) (Morgan)
- the need to be alone to get refreshed (Sharon) or find quiet (Peter)
- it was a place where teachers just complain about students (Claudia) ("the C")
- the time could be used to eat/work/bond with students (Jennifer) (Chelsea) (Jodi)
- it was a place where students and parents were trashed, and awkward excluding conversations happened (Matthew)
- it's part of school culture to sit with your students to eat (Nicholas)
- use time for work so can leave school at a decent time (Kim) (Melissa)
- the space is uncomfortable (Mr. T) or gross (Magistra)
- it's unproductive time (Dawn)
- the space is too small (Bridget), too far (Breanna), or non-existent (Karen)
- there's no time (Carol) (Meghan) (Julie) or too busy (Rosemarie)
- introvert nature (Tashia)
- too many people use the space (Christyn)
I had to stop scrolling through that long thread, so apologies if I didn't include people's ideas. Of course, Rolland did a better job of summarizing the results:
So, how important is it for teachers to be in a staff room? Is it possible to change a toxic space? Is this just another version of my musings on staff parties? It's interesting that there seemed to be more "no" answers than "yes" answers. I hope Rolland writes his own lengthy analysis of the remarks.I hear you. It looks like time, work load, location, sanitation, students, etc are factors that are keeping people out of the room.— Rolland Chidiac (@rchids) January 13, 2019
What I've noticed is that incorporating board games has made the staff room more friendly and inclusive. In that quote I got from Jen Balido-Cadavez, she mentioned the names of nine staff members who have played one of the games at some point during lunch. We aren't a big staff, so to have that many people involved is very encouraging. Factor in that some teachers run clubs during lunch so they aren't there, and a group of teachers are part of a lunch walking group, and that makes the number more impressive.