Light professional conversational topics for colleagues

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Minnesota, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. Minnesota

    Minnesota Rookie

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    Teachers, I need help from from all of you, regardless of your position in your school.

    When you are in a staff lounge room having your lunch, people are normally either eating their food, with their noses in their phones or there's a couple of one-on-one personal conversations, that you can't really join. I am a social person and like to talk to my colleagues, but at the same time I do not want to share my personal life (ex: that I went to Punta Cana already twice this school year) or go deep into teaching issues (ex: a certain student's misbehavior, a new school policy, a problematic parent known to the whole school, someone's resignation, a new staff member, etc.).

    I am looking for ideas to have big(er) group conversations; something engaging for all, regardless of the content matter, but without personal details or teaching specifics. I saw a great question here recently, such as "Have your students ever hurt your feelings?" I asked colleagues this question last week and that was a great conversation for the whole lunch time. Can you throw in some ideas for similar interesting topics? Let's compile a list :) Thanks much!
     
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    How about "Do you prefer getting work down or chit-chatting during your lunch period?"
     
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  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I strongly dislike small talk, especially when it's contrived. Impersonal communication seems pointless to me.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I usually eat at my desk, but staff room conversations usually revolve around: the weather, people's children, upcoming (or past) holidays, sports, TV, movies, students, local/national/international news.
     
  6. Minnesota

    Minnesota Rookie

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    Thanks for your expressing opinion, but that is not what I asked for.

    The questions I am trying to generate are not small talk about weather. They ARE about work, but not touching the concrete people/events.
     
  7. Minnesota

    Minnesota Rookie

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    Thanks, but I am looking for different type of topics, not small talk, but work-related topics, without discussing concrete people. "Have your students ever hurt your feelings?" was a perfect example for my colleagues to come out of their shells and express their feelings.
     
  8. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    My lunch group must be a little different from your experience. I eat with my team, and we do use our time to occasionally discuss student issues. However, we also use the time to get to know each other better and to keep up on colleagues' lives. It is the way we bond. Discussing an educational topic may be something we do occasionally, but, on a regular basis, it just doesn't fit with our style. While I don't do so now, when I at in the staff lounge, that wasn't the dynamic there either. The conversations were of a more personal nature.
     
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  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I "do education" pretty much all day EXCEPT during whatever time I may or may not get to eat. To be absolutely honest, the last thing I want to talk about are work related experiences. If someone wants that, they will find someone who is like minded, but many teachers will slink away because that isn't what they want to talk about during their few free moments. As always, just my opinion, of course.
     
  10. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I wasn't part of the conversations, but in the past, I've heard talk in the lounge about The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Kim Kardashian.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    To quote one of my students, "Got it." As others have said, our lunch and break conversations tend to be very informal.
     
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  12. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    I'm curious about the reason for not wanting to share your personal life with colleagues? My discussions with coworkers at lunch range from completely work related (curriculum, reactions to PLCs, student behavior, etc.) to politics (gun control and intruder drills) to purely social (one of my coworkers tried to set me up with someone she knows from the gym). I enjoy getting to know my coworkers for who they are apart from teaching; I know that's not the school culture everywhere, but I would feel weird about having contrived q&a type discussions at lunch with people I enjoy being around.
     
  13. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Our lunch conversations usually occur naturally. It's just a free flow of topics. We talk about work, family, sports, the news, etc... I like getting to know people on a personal level and wouldn't feel comfortable answering some types of questions with a group I didn't know as well. If someone asked me if my students hurt my feelings ever, I probably wouldn't give a good answer unless it was one of just a few of my friends on staff. I'm just not comfortable talking about things like that.
    You could try maybe the best lesson they've ever taught or even what they do with five unexpected minutes of downtime. You could also just ask them for their funniest teaching story or things like that.
     
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  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 3, 2018

    Lol :p
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Most people want to decompress at lunch
     
  16. Minnesota

    Minnesota Rookie

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    Thanks! Now we are getting somewhere :) Looks like you got it what I am looking for without asking WHY I need that.

    For the others here - the dynamics of my colleagues must be very different from yours, as we don't mind talking about work. Actually, lots of our "meetings" are happening while at lunch, in the office while copying, or while one is walking to get the students from the lunchroom and the other is on her prep or vice versa. Again, I certainly don't want to appear rude, but I am not asking of teachers' opinions on my thread, but asking for ideas for questions. If you have none, that's fine to skip this thread.

    The best lesson they have ever taught or a funniest teaching story / experience is something I am looking for! Much appreciated :)
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It kind of feels like you want to turn lunch time into a pseudo job interview. That doesn’t seem like much fun.
     
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  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Perhaps OP doesn't know coworkers well, and thinks that this would be an "in". Personally, I am more in favor of naturally occurring, more "organic" conversations that may, but probably won't center on the question of the day. Honestly, for the last month conversation has centered on NCAA basketball and friendly rivalry, as we all have different loyalties. Sometimes "lunch" becomes a time to vent, and we will understand that it was a bad day for some teachers, and we may be a sounding board, or commiserate, when applicable. In my humble opinion, it takes time to find out where you "fit" in the group, and how you interact best with coworkers.

    You may not want us to ask why you are so set on driving the conversation, but I am going to ask anyway, because the concept of wanting to steer the conversation seems odd to me, and perhaps others. You have received comments about not being comfortable with contrived conversations, yet you persevere, seeking job related conversation topics. If this is so important to you, you should be sharing the topics you have initiated and how well that went. I can tell you that as a sub, and as a staff member, the most important conversations have occurred naturally, creating bonds between another teacher and myself.

    If you are trying to be the smartest person in the room, and this is an ongoing pattern, your goal may have been to join in and be accepted by the group. However, at my school, the true result would be driving teachers who could use lunch to decompress to vacate the group, eating alone in their room. I fail to see how this accomplishes "togetherness" and cohesiveness. The group has become fragmented instead of a tight group. FWIW, if you are the person initiating the forced conversation topics, you will be considered someone to avoid, at least in the schools I have worked in.

    Lunch is not long enough to start with, so perhaps it should be a time to talk about your dog, share a funny story about your kids, or, actually, eat. If your school is intent on keeping a break on the subject of school, I am glad I don't work there. I need time to talk to a best friend without addressing other teachers who are acquaintances, but not friends, and I doubt that I am alone in this "need".

    I hope your group of teachers, at your school, enjoy being kept on task/subject matter all day long. I'm pretty sure that there is no requirement to stay school related even through a personal period, so I am pretty sure that your desire to keep the conversation school related will do more harm than good. I don't understand your rationale, so I will ask - why are you so set on initiating such a regimen? There must be a reason and I would like to know what it is. Thanks for clarifying in a future post.
     
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  19. Minnesota

    Minnesota Rookie

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    Thanks for taking time and writing such a long comprehensive post, but I have not much to add to clarify my rationale, other than to refer you back to my original post at the top. By the way, I've been at my school for quite a few years, and know well enough the colleagues I need to know. I have earned a good reputation in my school and do not need to work hard to be accepted.

    Can't you believe that there might be a possibility that a professional can simply enjoy such conversations? Please do. I am a social person, have always been, and would prefer talking to big groups, not just sharing one-on-one personal staff. I do not lead such conversations and do not want to appear the smartest person. I do enjoy seeing people talking other than being in a dead room. Whoever doesn't want to join, of course, doesn't, but those who do - are quite engaged. It seems that people often don't know how to initiate a small talk. I, personally, prefer small talk on professional matters.

    That is all from me on this topic. Please do not try to analyze my behavior any longer. I am not plotting anything. Thanks all, though, for your opinions. I will read this forum a bit, and I am sure I will generate such topics myself. By the way, I have no idea what OP or FWIW stand for.
     
  20. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Original poster or original post, depending on how it is used, and for what it's worth. Glad to help.
     
  21. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I suspect the OP might be the topic of conversation elsewhere in the building. :p
     
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  22. whizkid

    whizkid Habitué

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    And other people's business!!!!!!!!!!!:fearscream:
     
  23. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sometimes, yes.
     
  24. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    I'm not overly social. I tend to be an anxious soul--I don't mind small conversations if they are genuine, but, I'd feel a little put on the spot with forum topics popping up on my lunch break. Here at my computer I can revise and mull over an answer. Not so much on my lunch break. :)
     
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  25. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    If something comes up in the workroom that I want to chat about I'll join in. If not, then I just do what I need to do in there and leave (there's a coffee maker, chairs, tables and copy machine. Not much else). I don't hang out since I have other things to do so while I'm making copies I will chat sometimes with others but I don't want to talk to someone if what they're giving me is like an essay question that I have to think too deeply about then answer in a timely manner!
     
  26. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I enjoy collegial discourse about pedagogy, however, that tends not to be a lunch topic. However, such conversation is dynamic and energizing within a PLC, PD session, team meeting, or less formally such as "can we meet to talk about the upcoming unit on...." and then set a time to do that (which might very well be over lunch- but that's very different than a topic posed to the staff room lunch table)
     
  27. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Yeah, I wouldn't want to be forced into conversations if I'm trying to get some down time and enjoy my meal.

    But as for a list... here you go... https://www.conversationstarters.com/101.htm
    Ice Breakers
    • Where did you grow up?
    • Do you have any pets?
    • Do you have any siblings?
    • Do you know what your your name means?
    • What type of phone do you have?
    • What did you do this past weekend?
    • What are your plans for this weekend?
    • What do you like to do in your spare time?
    • What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
    • What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
    • What is your middle name?
    • What was the last thing you purchased?
    • What is your favorite holiday?
    • What is your favorite day of the week?
    • If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
    • What do you like to do to relax?
    • Are you a saver or a spender?
    • Do you play any instruments?
    Childhood Questions
    • What was your favorite children's book?
    • What is your first childhood memory?
    • What type of kid were you (e.g. spoiled, rebellious, well-behaved, quiet, obnoxious...)?
    • What is one thing you miss about being a kid?
    • What did you want to grow up to be when you were younger?
    School/Work Topics
    • Where did (do) you go to school?
    • What was (is) your favorite subject?
    • What was (is) your least favorite subject?
    • What's the first thing you do after school/work?
    • Were you the class clown or teacher's pet?
    • What do you do for a living?
    • What is your dream job?
    • If you had $10 million, would you still be working/going to school?
    • What was your least favorite job that you've ever had?
    • What is something that you have gotten in trouble for at school/work?
    Relationship Questions
    • What is the first think you notice about a guy or girl?
    • Have you ever been in love?
    • Do you believe in soul mates?
    • What are your turn offs?
    • Do you believe in love at first sight?
    • Do you prefer short hair or long hair on a guy/girl?
    • What do you look for in a guy/girl?
    • Who was the last person you called?
    • Would you rather be rich and never find true love or be poor and find true love?
    Sports Conversation Starters
    • Who is your favorite athlete?
    • How often do you exercise?
    • What is your favorite sports team?
    • Do you play any sports?
    Vacation Questions
    • Where was the last place you went on vacation?
    • Where do you plan on going for your next vacation?
    • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
    • What countries have you traveled to?
    • What was your worst vacation experience?
    Food/Drink Topics
    • What is your favorite drink?
    • What is your favorite food?
    • What is your favorite meal of the day?
    • Are there any foods that you dislike or will not eat?
    • Are there any foods that you would like to try?
    • What is your favorite restaurant?
    • What is your favorite pizza topping?
    • What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
    • What did you have for dinner last night?
    • What is the signature dish that you cook?
    Entertainment Topics
    • Who is your favorite actor?
    • What is your favorite movie of all time?
    • What was the worst movie you've ever seen?
    • What is your favorite TV show?
    • What was the last movie you've seen?
    • What type of music do you like to listen to?
    • Who is your favorite music artist?
    • What was the last book you read?
    Personal Questions
    • Who do you look up to?
    • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
    • What are you scared of?
    • What is the best piece of advice you've received?
    • What do your parents do for a living?
    • What is your biggest regret?
    • What is your most embarrassing moment?
    • What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
    • What are some of your short-term goals?
    • What are some of your long-term goals?
    Misc. Conversation Starters
    • Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
    • Tell me about your first car.
    • Do you drink coffee or tea?
    • If you could have any super power, what would it be?
    • If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have only 1 item, what would it be?
    • Do you believe in luck?
    • Do you play video games?
    • Do you believe people are inherently good?
    • How often do you shower?
    • What is your favorite board game?
    • What is your favorite charity?
    • Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
    • Do you prefer cats or dogs?
    • Would you prefer to live in the city or a rural area?
    • What is your favorite season?
    • Do you speak any other languages?
    • Have you ever cried because you were so happy?
    • What is the best thing that happened to you during the past week?
    • What is the worst thing that happened to you during the past week?
    • Do you sing in the shower?
    • What is the most valuable thing that you own?
    • What would you do if you only had 24 hours left to live?
     
  28. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Apr 11, 2018

    You could also try some "would you rather" topics...
    https://www.conversationstarters.com/wouldyouratherquestions.htm

    Physical
    • Would you rather be really hairy or completely bald?
    • Would you rather be 4'5" or 7'7"?
    • Would you rather be blind or deaf?
    • Would you rather be tall and fat or short and well built?
    • Would you rather eat healthy or exercise regularly?
    • Would you rather be super strong or super fast?
    • Would you rather lose half your hair or lose half your hearing?
    • Would you rather look weak and actually be strong or look strong and actually be weak?
    • Would you rather have a third eye or a third arm?
    • Would you rather be as wide as you are tall, or as tall as you are wide?
    • Would you rather age from the neck up only or the neck down only?
    Money/Job Related
    • Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?
    • Would you rather be rich and ugly or poor and good looking?
    • Would you rather be rich or be poor and find true love?
    • Would you rather work really hard at an interesting job or slack off at a boring job?
    • Would you rather take a guaranteed $100,000 or a 50/50 chance at $1,000,000?
    Hard
    • Would you rather be in constant pain or have a constant itch?
    • Would you rather be blind or not be able to talk for the rest of your life?
    • Would you rather go through life unable to answer any questions or unable to ask any questions?
    • Would you rather have no sense of smell or smell everything near you as though it were right in front of your nose?
    • Would you rather only be able to whisper or only be able to shout everything?
    • Would you rather save the life of someone that you're close to or save the lives of 5 random strangers?
    • Would you rather never touch another human again or never touch a computer powered device again?
    • Would you rather be the first to die among your close friends or be the last one to die?
    • Would you rather have a lousy short term memory or a terrible long term memory?
    • Would you rather have 1 wish granted today or 3 wishes granted 5 years from now?
    • Would you rather be homeless or live without family and friends?
    Sacrifice
    • Would you rather go without the internet or a car for a month?
    • Would you rather have to sit all day or stand all day?
    • Would you rather go to jail for a year or live in your car for a year?
    • Would you rather not be able to use your hands or not be able to walk?
    Relationships
    • Would you rather be a parent or a child?
    • Would you rather dump someone else or be the person getting dumped?
    • Would you rather be stuck in a house with someone you hate or be stuck in a house alone?
    • Would you rather be a genius in a world of morons, or a moron in a world of geniuses?
    • Would you rather be ugly and marry a good looking person or be good looking and marry an ugly person?
    Gross
    • Would you rather take an ice cold shower and be clean or not shower at all?
    • Would you rather lick someone else's armpit or have someone else lick your armpit?
    • Would you rather eat a stick of butter or snort a tablespoon of salt?
    • Would you rather smell your own fart or smell someone elses?
    • Would you rather be a chronic farter or a chronic burper?
    • Would you rather drink a cup of spoiled milk or pee your pants in public?
    Misc
    • Would you rather have the ability to fly or the ability to read people's mind?
    • Would you rather have your flight delayed by 8 hours or lose your luggage?
    • Would you rather be the worst player on the best team or the best player on a great team?
    • Would you rather never be able to eat hot food again or never take a hot shower again?
    • Would you rather be ignorant and happy or be knowledgeable and never fully content?
    • Would you rather never play or play but always lose?
    • Would you rather hang with a few friends or go to big party?
    • Would you rather be 10 minutes late or be 20 minutes early for everything?
    • Would you rather give out bad advice or receive bad advice?
    • Would you rather be a master of every musical instrument or be fluent in every language?
    • Would you rather be stuck in a home that is constantly dark or a house that is constantly bright?
    • Would you rather be a vegetarian or only be able to eat meat?
    • Would you rather be in your pajamas all day or in a suit all day?
    • Would you rather go forward or back in time?
     

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