School principal sets off debate on need for faculty rooms for teachers

June 6, 2019 - 6:02 PM
Faculty room
Are faculty rooms needed for teachers? A principal of a high school and the education chief doesn't think so, but many disagree. (Geronimo Giqueaux via Unsplash)

The remarks of Bacoor National High School Principal Anita Rom on the non-importance of faculty areas met online opposition among those who have experience in the education sector.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon shared that he was “disturbed” and said he would immediately “file a legislation” mandating the building of faculty areas in educational institutions as soon as the 18th Congress opens in July 2019.

In the comments thread, the congressman reiterated his stance when DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan responded to his tweet.

“I believe it (faculty rooms) should be mandatory alongside classrooms. Quality education depends not just on classrooms but also on the work environment of those who teach,” Biazon said to him.

A mathematics instructor from The Fisher Valley College similarly slammed Rom over her remark and said that the principal should’ve hired “robots” instead of teachers if she doesn’t believe faculty areas are important.

“As a teacher, para sa’kin napakahalaga ng faculty room… Mahirap ‘yung wala kang mapag-stayan kapag bakante mo. ‘Yung ‘di mo alam kung saan ka mag-che-check ng test papers mo. Saan mo i-co-conference ang batang mga may problema,” he wrote.

Previously, teacher and faculty association president Maricel Herrera of Bacoor National High School posted pictures of an old restroom that was converted into a faculty area.

“After class, siyempre gusto ni teacher magpahinga kahit saglit, makapag-relax naman. Saan siya titigil pansamantala? Sa ilalim ng hagdan at dating CR,” she wrote.

The post eventually became viral and reached the school principal herself, party-list Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

Briones dismissed the issue as merely “drama” created by the teachers to attract media attention.

“They had a choice, they could hold office in the laboratory rooms but of course, it is more dramatic, it’s more touching if you hold it in the toilets,” she said.

Meanwhile, school principal Anita Rom said she did not order the teachers to use the restroom as a faculty area.

They had the option to use the library, conference room and social hall, she said.

Rom added the school might file an administrative case, cyberlibel and destruction of government property against Herrera.

ACT, however, called the actions a “clear case of union repression and violation of her (Herrera’s) academic freedom.”

DepEd, for its part, said it is “exerting all efforts to facilitate a solution acceptable to all officials and teachers” following the incident.

It also said that there are “appropriate administrative procedures in addressing welfare concerns.”

Oasis from students and classrooms

Faculty areas are places where educators spend the majority of their time when they are not teaching or attending meetings or conferences.

It serves as a social, cultural and emotional space for the educators where they could build a sense of community and connectedness, according to Australian principal Sinan Kerimofski.

Furthermore, foreign academics noted that a faculty area is an “important site for influencing curriculum and resource decisions (and) a site for the constitution of professional subjectivities of the pre-service and experienced teacher.”

“(It) represents a place where there is potential to learn certain things that are not likely learned in the classroom or the playground, places where students are present,” they wrote in a research paper published in Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education.

The faculty area is also where educators can additionally share insights and observations, conduct discussions, collaborate, brainstorm and exchange curriculum ideas and opinions on certain educational issues.

“Functioning as a place of professional development or as an oasis from students and the classroom, the teachers’ room is arguably one of the most important rooms for educators in school settings,” a website citing The Journal of Architectural Education observed.