Working With Colleagues: The Gossip Mill Produces Toxic Flour

You and I could walk into any school staff room at morning break time and, after about five minutes, we could easily distinguish between the ‘Chatty Cathys’ and the ‘Reserved Richards’. Gossips love to espouse whatever is on their mind, even if nobody else wants to hear it. They’ll tell you one funny anecdote after another, ranging from which salon they went to last week to how difficult they find the new pupil assessment software the school’s made them use. There’s also one other thing that gossips are really good at, and that’s dishing out the dirt on anyone who happens to be the topic of the current conversation.

Gossiping at work? Not a good idea.
Gossiping at work? Not a good idea.

Gossips, without fail, are people to completely avoid at all costs (where possible). One of the reasons why gossips are famously passed over for promotion is because they can’t be trusted with the sensitive information they’d be exposed to in a managerial role. They generate distrust, and you should be very cautious with what you say when around anyone who is a famous gossip – you don’t want to give them fuel for a fire that they can burn behind your back! Additionally, if you happen to be sat with a gossip who starts to speak negatively about a colleague or the school in general, then don’t be afraid to get up and walk away. What’s more important: having a laugh or having a job? Besides, do you really want to be sat there when everyone’s complaining about the principal and that awkward moment happens when the deputy head walks into the staffroom? If you’re sat with gossips, or if you’re seen to be hanging around with them and chatting with them frequently, then you’ll be associated with them in the minds of senior management. If you plan on having a long and fruitful career in teaching, then remember this golden rule: don’t gossip, and don’t associate with gossips.

Another point to note is that, if you feel bold enough, you should oppose gossip whenever you hear it (but try not to come over as being bossy or intimidating). If you’re planning on entering middle or senior management in your school, then it’s in your best interest to shut down the gossip mill before you get promoted; the same people who are gossiping about the leadership style of the Lower Secondary Head will one day be gossiping about you, guaranteed. If you hear gossip that puts anyone in a negative light, then feel free to comment with a “Wow, I would really hate it if someone said something like that about me” or even “I don’t think it’s right for me to take part in this conversation”. Trust me when I say this: gossip is toxic, and you can never be guaranteed anonymity when you spit venom! It’s not uncommon for gossip to filter up to management, and if you’re name is mentioned when this happens, you may have to endure quite an unpleasant conversation with someone who is rightly annoyed with you.


High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK). Richard is the award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know

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