One of the counselors at Timberview Middle School made this statement in a meeting last week. I’ve been in education for over twenty years, and I’m certain that before that day, I had never heard those words spoken. Teachers dread lunch duty. For most, lunch duty means hundreds of hungry kids who have been held up in a classroom all morning, gathered in one place, all with plastic-ware and mashed potatoes at the ready. Teachers stand by with discipline referrals in hand, and paper towels nearby, prepared to counterattack any threats of students leaving their seats without permission, or (get ready for this…) sudden accidental milk spills!
And so we serve our duty in the lunch room, willingly or otherwise, because it’s in our contract. Why don’t they just come out and say it? Instead of “Other duties as assigned,” just put it out there; “Look, you’re going to have to do lunch duty. Sorry, we all have to!” Because we’d have no teachers! Nobody wants to do lunch duty. So we call it “other duties as assigned.” Very clever sneaky school district lawyer types!
Why I Love Lunch Duty!
I really do love lunch duty! And It’s my goal in this blog to encourage you to love it, too!
Ask any kid what his favorite part of the day is. Some will say recess; maybe PE; or music. The occasional future accountant might say math. But most will put LUNCH in their top three! Why? This one’s easy:
Lunch is the thirty minutes during the day students are able to enjoy the company of their friends. They can talk about things that interest them, relive last night’s football game, or discuss the video game everyone’s playing. They can complain to their friends that their parents grounded them because of something they didn’t even do. They can make after-school plans. They are in their zone!
Ben Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Youth Philharmonic. He is also the co-author of the book, “The Art of Possibility.” In this book he talks about “shining eyes.” This is a quote from his TED video in 2008:
“My job is to awaken possibility in other people. And of course I wanted to know if I was doing that. Do you know how you find out? You look at their eyes. If their eyes are shining, you know that you are doing it. If their eyes are not shining, you have to ask yourself a question: ‘Who am I being, that their eyes are not shining?’ We can do this with our children, too. ‘Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?'”
I love seeing shining eyes in our students! And I see them everyday in the cafeteria. When I ask them a question about something they are passionate about, and I take an active interest in their lives, their eyes light up! Do you want to see shining eyes? Don’t just supervise during lunch duty, participate in it! Why not be an active part in the students’ favorite part of the day? Walk around, have conversations with students. Ask questions, then let them talk. You’ll see their shining eyes!
Make lunch duty an opportunity rather than a burden. Do this for a couple of weeks and you’ll really start developing some great relationships with kids. They won’t tell you this, but they’ll appreciate that you care about them!