What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 4

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Four: Lunch doesn’t just happen

Managing a class is like herding cats. At no time is this cliché more applicable than lunchtime. We have to convince thirty children to finish their lessons, put away materials, clean up the classroom, and locate lunch supplies. Then we have to maneuver this group to the cafeteria and get everyone settled in. Some teachers have lunchtime duty; others grab a quick bathroom break, then scarf down a sandwich while doing errands and prepping afternoon lessons.

The setup for lunchtime begins in the morning, with a streamlined procedure for students to indicate the lunch they will eat today. (The cafeteria needs the lunch count so workers can prep the food.) Teachers have to organize lunch money from a variety of sources and make sure everyone’s account is current.  Otherwise, kids end up with a crummy cafeteria emergency lunch and are in a foul mood all afternoon.

Before we take the class to lunch, we convince everyone to wash their hands. Some teachers do a bathroom break; others do some variation of a hand sanitizer Squirt Procedure. We sneak in a little learning by having kids Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions. (We can review at least four times tables in the time it takes to sanitize the class’s hands.)

Kids don’t want to keep track of their lunch box while they’re playing at after-lunch recess, so many schools have a lunch bucket to hold each class’s lunchbox collection. Our class found that The Lunch Wagon is easier to maneuver and much more fun.

Teachers really care about their kids and spend a lot of time attending to their basic needs. Nourishment is an important need, and we spend some time teaching kids how to fill up at school lunch. (Hungry kids appreciate knowing that eating their protein first is the smart way to fill up.)

Lunchtime isn’t the only time teachers manage food for thirty kids. We develop systems for dealing with birthday treats and hope parents will heed our Tips for Sending Treats to Class. We have rules and procedures to deal with Water Containers at School.

Fun fact: Lunch is an important part of the school day—but did you know it can promote diversity and build school community? The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Mix it Up at Lunch Day has been doing just that for ten years.


 

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