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My school in India enforces an interactive classroom activity of the teachers sitting with students to have lunch in the afternoon. I originally felt this was a good idea, but it is horrible because they misbehave and make it very difficult to finish my lunch in the given time - I have to spend all of my time handling them.
Any suggestions on how I can better handle them?
Doesn't sound like much of an interactive classroom activity...more like babysitting!
But this question brings up the important topic of how much control a teacher should try to exert over behavior in the lunch room, which is a common area. In most schools, teachers are not directly responsible for common-area behaviors, where the lunch room aids take over.
Yes, I know that lunch time is a contracted break or prep period for nearly all teachers and that technically your responsibility ends the moment the kids get into the lunch line. But as I outline on my Classroom Management Foundations page, behavior that is allowed to be out of control in common areas will spill over into your classroom instructional time. The post-lunch tattle session alone can eat up ten minutes!
I don't advocate teachers sitting with classes, but I do urge all teachers to help out with lunch behavior by teaching etiquette, as well as setting and emphasizing expectations with targeted interactive classroom activity.
Before we get into these activities, let me emphasize the importance of teachers walking through the lunchroom once in awhile just to get a feel for how things are going.
Likewise, it is important to oversee the line as the students go through the lunch counter station (usually staffed by someone from the office) before they get to the food; this is a perfect opportunity to enforce the use of "thank you" and is a transition method that really sets the tone for lunch behavior.
This is a great opportunity for some "prim and proper" lessons...and for some very creative teaching ideas.
Show students internet video clips from period dramas where the refined ladies and gentlemen are quietly enjoying their meal and having quiet, polite conversations. As an interactive classroom activity, have students practice before lunch. Students love role playing.
Check out "Miss Manners for Children" from your library and teach some etiquette lessons. Kids get a kick out of this. I have taught these lessons and many students are surprised to learn that a napkin goes across the lap - it isn't just a decoration for their lunch tray.
I would also explain to students that lunch is a time in the day when you can all quietly relax and rejuvenate together. Set the expectation for lunch time behavior and hold students accountable!
You might go so far as to make things really special on occasion by having nicer "pretty" napkins for a lunch because students have shown you that they can meet the expectations for using napkins (on laps until they are finish when they wipe their lips and hands).
Another creative teaching idea is to show the kids how to fold some paper napkins into unique shapes when they have all met lunchroom expectations. They can take the napkins to the lunch room and impress their friends!
TIP: Interactive classroom activity is great for teaching etiquette, but don't forget to model and practice how a student should use "please" and "thank you" with their lunch servers.
Bottom line: Encourage polite manners at all times in your classroom and it will bleed over to lunch.
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