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Professional relationship – How I married my colleague

Our undercover teacher explores staffroom romances, and how you can make them work...

  • Professional relationship – How I married my colleague

Staffroom romances. The great titivator of playground and school-run gossip – but they do happen.

Which is not a surprise given the long hours, high stress and working conditions that are not conducive to meeting someone outside of the school you teach at.

No surprise that a lot of teachers end up marrying other teachers. So how do you meet the love of your life in the staffroom without becoming gossip fodder and blowing up your job in the process?

Having just married a fellow teacher, I have a few ideas…

Meet Cute

Every great romance film, to quote Ernst Lubitsch, has its Meet Cute. That moment when the birds sing, the sun comes out from behind the rain cloud and all the stars align.

Which in a school will be somewhere near the photocopier. Which is not such a bad thing. The bit with finding a boyfriend or girlfriend that can get missed in all those furtive glances and flirtatious comments about giving the paper draw a good filling is the friend part.

My amour and I bonded over a class I handed over to her: they were utter hell spawn and the worst class we had ever taught. 

But how to take that first moment and connection of friendship into the realm of dating? Well, proto-dating. Dates that are not dates, those 1:1 gatherings that are totally innocent.

Like meandering around book shops looking for books for the class library. Total deniability if you bump into a parent. Or your headteacher. 

It also gives you time to get to know this possible paramour without the pressure of dating, or the embarrassment of asking out a colleague to discover the feelings were not reciprocated. 

Courting

You like this person. You enjoy spending time with them. You may well have accidentally met their family already because you got the time you were meeting them wrong.

So how do you turn up the romance while keeping an exit strategy in case it doesn’t work out? 

Well, it turns out our grandparents were right about some things. Proper, old-fashioned courting: drinks, dinner, picnics, trips to the zoo or a museum.

Anywhere and everywhere that will not end with coffee back at someone’s house. If a romance is worth it, give it time to grow and develop. Just do your geography homework as you will need to find places to visit that are not in your local town or city.

Or even in your own county. A 30min drive time is a minimum to avoid the prying eyes of parents and colleagues. 

If you are desiring to spend a lot of time with someone at work and outside of work, build the romance. A school holiday is a good time for courting as you will both be free and could plan to see each other most days. 

Is it worth it?

And now is the crunch point: are you all in or is it time to bow out gracefully? Yes, you might have had a chased kiss at some point but it is a lot harder to ignore having seen your colleague without their pants on.

So it is time to have a proper conversation about where this romance is going. Has it been a bit of fun or has the lust turned into love? You can always do this in a rowboat in the rain if it lacks Nicholas Spark’s spark. 

Happy ever after

So girl has got boy/girl, but then what? First of all, quietly check your school or county’s HR policy. While your private life is private, there can be issues if one of you is involved in the performance management of the other.

Otherwise, your private life is your private life. Maybe drop into conversation with your TA that you and Mx Smith from Y3 will be going to the cinema together.

Try not to spend too much time in each other’s classrooms: children are way more observant than we give them credit for. 

In school, be professional friends. Try to stop flirting over the photocopier. And definitely do not go into the stationary cupboard together. Even if you really do only need red pens.

Try to carpool if staying over: it’s great for the planet and means all that after-school moaning can be left in the car. Home is for home, work is for working. 

As for our happy ending, we are married and hoping to add our own member to the class in the future. 

The writer is a primary teacher in England.

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