A teacher’s time is valuable. I remember treasuring my lunchtime as a much needed break from the day-to-day rigors of teaching. However, to make your classroom atmosphere a little stronger, I suggest you use your lunch period to talk with struggling students. To maintain your sanity you might want to try this just once a week.
As a High School teacher, I had many commitments before and after school and many students had similar commitments as well. It was virtually impossible to meet with students at those times to discuss their grades. Almost every student and myself could be available to meet during lunch. Frequently, I would ask one struggling student per period to visit me at lunch one day a week.
The response that I received from inviting these students to have lunch with me was astounding. I did not have them come in for disciplinary purposes, simply to talk to them and ask them why they thought they were under-performing. We could then discuss and implement a plan together to increase achievement. The rest of the period was spent getting to know these students. We talked about sports, music, their interests, their other classes. The students seemed to appreciate these sessions and I found that we identified with each other on another level. These students began to see me as someone who was trying to help them succeed and not just as a teacher whose class they had to sit through for an hour every day.
The most important part of this plan took place after these lunch sessions, and that was the follow-up. After setting goals with the students during my lunch period, I made every effort to follow through with them to make sure that they were accomplishing the goals that they set forth for themselves.
Although your time is limited and, as teachers, we need our breaks from students, I found that giving one lunch period a week to students had a profound impact on their success in my class. I also noticed less discipline issues and increased motivation from all students as I was recognized as a teacher who cared and worked hard for them. The headaches that come from teaching can be minimized if your students respect you . . . an easy way to earn respect is to devote additional time to get to know your students.