Whatever happened to …

… eating with students?

The inspiration for this post came from feedback from the “Whatever happened to …?” padlet.

What ever happened to…. Getting to eat with your students everyday! Long before detailed, contractual supervision schedules we used to enjoy 20 minutes each day of eating with our students ~ getting to talk to them on an informal basis. Time well invested

This was one of those topics that really illustrate the difference between the elementary and secondary school environments.

In my school, we had what I considered the perfect timetable.  There were eight sections and we would tumble through six on any day.  So, a Day 1 was periods 1-2-3-4-4-5-6.  Day 2 was 2-3-4-5-5-6-7 and so on.  There were classes that rolled off the timetable for a couple of days before returning.  You’ll notice that a period was doubled in the middle.  That was split over the lunch time.  One of the periods was junior lunch (9, 10) and the other senior lunch based upon the subject that a student took at that time.  It was also one of the many supervision tasks that we had.  When our lunch was scheduled for one of those periods, you ate in one and often had supervision during the other.  “Pig pen duty” involved supervising the cafeteria with a partner or guarding the door to the classrooms so that you could keep quiet in the school.  Lots of stories to share about that!

I won’t mention the length of lunch periods but suffice it to say they were certainly longer than 20 minutes!

If you wanted, you could “dine” in the staff room or at your desk or periodically leave for a restaurant but that was risky because you needed to be back at school for the class after lunch.

Or there were alternatives.

  • since the computers were on the same timetable as me, they’d be unscheduled for classes during my lunch.  I’d regularly have students ask to eat and work on projects during that time.  They needed to be supervised so I would chow down with them
  • it was also a perfect time for the computer programming team to practice, with my supervision
  • during football season, often we would have team meetings at lunch to go over Xs and Os or watch video of a previous game
  • at times, students who worked the yearbook would need time to work on computers, again with supervision
  • it also was the perfect time for installing software and cleaning keyboards – my group of computer workers were really helpful at that

There was significantly more than 20 minutes to do the above.

When I became a consultant and had the opportunity to visit schools, lunch was a puzzle!  No two had the same schedules for busing or just legacy reasons so one of the things that I carried were school timetables.  I knew that those short eating times were sacred for teachers and would do my best to avoid them or if I had to interrupt, I’d bring dessert.  It became even more of a challenge when the balanced day schedule became in vogue.  At that time, I had no formal lunch and often it was a sandwich in the car en route to somewhere.

Regardless, though, it was a terrific time to talk to students in a setting other than the academic/formal learning class and, as the anonymous poster in the Padlet noted, it was time well invested.

Having said all that, it still is important that there is “me” time built into the schedule.  The calling of nature, a time just to regenerate, a time to plan, a time to organize, a time to mark (yeah, like that works), and more shows the importance of breaks.

Your thoughts?

  • what kind of “me” time does your schedule allow?
  • how do you connect with students other than during class time?
  • if you’re on a balanced day, how do you keep your strength up?

As always, your thoughts via comment are always appreciated.

This whole Sunday series of “Whatever happened to …” is available here.  How about taking a walk along memory lane with me? 

Got an idea, share it on this padlet.


OTR Links 08/07/2016

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