I am a high school teacher (Masters degree with years of experience)and my classroom has a connecting door with the ISS (in school suspension) classroom.

Between our two classrooms, there is a small (6x10) storage area that I have cleaned out and fixed up to accommodate a small sofa, my refrigerator, microwave, and storage locker, etc.

The ISS coordinator is an assistant position, not a certified role and has never expressed an interest in utilizing this space. We are both new to our classrooms this year (and this is his first year at this school while I have been here for seven years) so it is a new set-up.

I have no issue with the ISS coordinator but rather with his wife who recently got hired on as our work-based learning transition coach. She has her classroom in a completely different building but regularly comes over here during her 75 minute planning period (she is a certified staff member).

She has recently started hanging out in this room, using my microwave and fridge, using up all of my paper towels, and allowing her high school daughter to come and hang out in this room as well.

I feel that I have priority to the room since I am the one who cleaned it up and organized it and also because I am the actual certified teacher while her husband is in an assistant role.

I can't even comfortably use the space during my lunch break because it falls right in the middle of her planning period when she is hanging out in there, fixing food, etc. I tried to drop some hints initially about it but she has acted oblivious.

How do I handle this? I feel like administration would totally back my position, but I don't really want to go that route.

She has never once asked if I minded if she used the space, borrow my microwave/refrigerator or my paper towels, paper plates, etc.

I guess I would feel differently if she didn't act so entitled and apparently she doesn't have enough work to keep her busy if she is constantly hanging out in her husband's ISS room during her planning period!

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    – Kilisi
    Aug 21 at 23:33
  • How did you inform people that you were claiming the shared storage space between classrooms as your private space?
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22 at 12:37
  • @ColleenV please go back and read previous comments. I don't have time to rehash everything for you. What people don't seem to get is that this woman is not the one I share a space with. She is the wife of the ISS guy in the room next door. She comes over here from a DIFFERENT building where she has her OWN office to use THIS space (which is not a public teacher's lounge… We already have two of those!!) as her own personal hang-out and to allow her child to hang out here as well as using up my lunch break to microwave food for her and her daughter. I don't know how to make that any clearer. Aug 22 at 15:33
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    @ConfoundedTurbulence That doesn't explain how you informed people that the storage locker was your space and not a public space.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22 at 17:00
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    I wasn't trying to attack you... I'm asking for more information. Obviously I don't know the situation where you work. If the space is shared between two rooms that sounds like something that isn't intended to be private. Did you tell the ISS coordinator that you were making that a private space? If the wife is purposefully violating the norms (teachers only use space attached to their classrooms) that's different from her husband saying "Sure, use the space attached to my classroom if you want." because he's new and clueless.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 22 at 19:48

4 Answers 4


Generally, work spaces are shared spaces, unless you have a private office (and even that still belongs to the company/school). It sounds like you would like a private space, but perhaps do not have one. If you were told that this could be a private space, then you could object to the shared usage, but I suspect that it was just an unused space that you made into a comfortable break area.

If it is a shared space, then you really have only two options: share it or remove any private supplies (microwave, fridge, paper towels) so it becomes a less nice place to hang out. You can still use it as a break area, but you'll probably need to use a portable cooler for your lunch supplies, the standard breakroom microwave for heating, and just take your lunch in there after preparing it elsewhere. I suspect if the fridge and microwave go away, most of the people using it will also go away.

Another option is to talk to her, tell her that all the things and supplies in the room were supplied by you, they are not shared supplies provided by the school. If you do talk to her, be willing to compromise -- you'll want to be able to eat your lunch without teenagers sleeping in the room (in fact, limiting it to staff is a reasonable thing to ask), and ask if she'd be willing to chip in to pay for paper towels and other supplies.

But don't just hint: speak clearly about what is happening and what boundaries you would like. Just realize that it is not YOUR space, and you will probably need to share it with other staff. You're not required to leave your property there to share, however.

  • Yes, I may have to do that. The two seater sofa is also my personal property. My biggest contention is that this is a teacher that has her space in another building and she comes all the way over here to hang out when there are 2 dedicated teachers' lounges for her use. She just feels entitled because it is her husband that has the ISS room next to mine. I just can't imagine doing the same thing if I were in her position, especially without at least asking. I feel if she had done that I wouldn't be so irritated. I really hate to go complain to admin. Aug 21 at 16:21
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    And she is probably seeing it as a very nice shared space where she can get away and quiet. You'll probably need to remove the couch too. If the locker locks, that can have some things to make the area more comfortable, but only when you are using it. Aug 21 at 16:25

My stepdad was in a kind of similar situation. Well, I guess he went a step further, he literally renovated a room in the basement of a dormitory he works at. He gets pangs of exhaustion and needs a place to have a quick rest due to severe celiac's. Disability accommodation just wasn't a thing back in the day and he figured out a solution so he could keep working at his best performance without bothering anyone else. Still, he always had this dread that it might get taken away because it really wasn't officially his space, even though over time people learned you can find him there and everyone just went with it.

Anyway, point is, as everyone already has reiterated over and over again, you really don't have an official claim on the space and you cannot claim who can or cannot go there. However, it sounds like this space is very important for your wellbeing. As an educator you have to face a lot of people all at once for a prolonged time whether you like it or not. It takes a toll and you need a space to unwind. A random teenager staring at you from a feet away is not relaxing for any healthy adult.

The matter of the fact is you have a need for a place to unwind to perform at your best level. Then you carved out one for yourself but it has been over taken. Unfortunately you have no official claim on the space to set the boundaries you need.

I see three courses of action

  1. Administrators value you way more: request the space to be assigned to you stating you need it to perform at top level. Agree to accept other spaces that they can assure you will not have non-staff members, especially not children, this will show you're ready to compromise. If they can't afford to upset you, you'll get the room.

  2. Administrators really, really need the new guy: would you accept sharing the space between you and the guy only? Frankly, what I can assess about the wife's personality, he might appreciate some quiet time without her as well. Talk to him directly and ask if he wouldn't mind only you two using the space. If he agrees, talk to administration and say you guys are using it, would administration mind to have locks installed so you can keep papers there or whatever. He has deniability because administration installed locks, you only have to live with the guy, administration had zero awkward choices to make.

  3. You have little hope either would side with you: Go to administrators, say you really need a personal space to perform at your best rate. You had this room next to you, but it has been over taken by that wife and daughter. You completely understand it's their right to be there, but you still need a space to relax, preferably without children. Ask if they can point you towards some solution.

On a side note, yes, you have all the rights to remove your items. But it's not the items you need, you need the space. Once you move out your items and they move in theirs, you don't get any closer to what you actually need. So that accomplishes nothing and gets the wife on the defensive, I'd advise against it as a solution.

Personally, and this might be controversial, I see no point in talking to the wife directly. She is walking to a different building, through her hubbies classroom, in a space clearly for time off, during her working time - and brings her kid with her. Nothing illegal, sure, but doesn't sound like someone you can reason with. Completely subjective on my part, I admit, that's just my take on it.

  • I doubt they will move in any items once OP removes theirs, they will probably find somewhere else to hang out especially since there seem to already be furnished break rooms provided.
    – AnnaAG
    Aug 25 at 13:07
  • @AnnaAG Maybe, and if sitting on the floor of an empty room is a good enough solution for OP, they can consider that strategy
    – vspmis
    Aug 26 at 18:28

She has never once asked if I minded if she used the space

She is just taking advantage of a comfortable space. Asking permission just formalises it and has the potential for a negative reaction. So she didn't ask. It's hard to blame her for that. It's exactly what you did when you decided to clean it up and move your couch into it.

You can make waves and go to the hierarchy or just remove your property from the space. More than likely she will stop using it.

Personally I'd just remove my stuff and use it as a storage space, or ask the hierarchy to assign the space to me and furnish me with keys.


A less extreme alternative to straight up removing everything would be to padlock everything - if the fridge and/or microwave don't have spots for a padlock, then locking a chain around it going through the handle would work as well. I agree with the point made in the other answer that if the microwave and fridge go away, then it becomes a lot less appealing of a space. This way though, you also wouldn't lose access to them yourself as you would if you removed them. I doubt anyone would cross the building just to have a couch to sit on.

If someone complains about it, then you have an easy excuse that it was being made dirty and damaged regularly by people using it, and since it's your personal property you have the right to put locks on it.

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    Sounds like a public school, putting a personal padlock on public space is not a good idea. And bringing in your personal items into a shared space is your problem. Complaining that it gets dirty won't get you very far since it shouldn't have been there in the first place. OP has created a liability for the school district. What if something goes wrong with the microwave oven and a fire starts?
    – cdkMoose
    Aug 21 at 16:52
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    @cdkMoose I fully agree that bringing a microwave, fridge, and couch into a public school is a bad idea on principle, much less expecting them to not be used. I didn't think "don't do what you did in the first place" was a really helpful answer, and I figure if OP has the freedom to be bringing significant furniture into the school, then adding a padlock to it is probably not much more of a stretch. Aug 21 at 17:07
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    We are allowed to bring our own microwaves and fridges. I'm just one of many, including our principal. I don't think I could do the padlock thing...that's just too much. Thanks for the feedback Aug 21 at 17:13
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    Very interesting, this would not have been allowed in the school systems I'm familiar with. They have fridges and microwaves in the designated teacher's lounges but the administration is aware and has oversight on them.
    – cdkMoose
    Aug 21 at 21:20
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    I think people get that, they just aren't sure that you get to claim that space as your own. It is your employer's space and for them to decide how it gets used. I think most of us work in places where we wouldn't get to claim space like that just because it is near our work area. What if a teacher across the hall (instead of from another building) from you wants to access the space, would you feel the same? Would the administration back you in that feeling?
    – cdkMoose
    Aug 22 at 18:01

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