English – 20.02.2016 – What Happens Next, Miss?21 Feb 2016, Posted by Michaela's Blog in
Posted on February 20, 2016 by Lia Martin
Teaching English and thoughts on the future of education.
The success of ‘eating together’ has long been documented. Countless studies claim that children who eat with their families are more likely to have healthy relationships, achieve academically and maintain psychological stability and wellbeing.
Coined ‘family lunch’, at Michaela we do lunchtime differently. Gone are the long lines of children counting pennies for a burger. Gone are teenage clans claiming plots in the lunch hall.
We seat pupils in sixes, randomly shuffled, with a teacher or member of support staff at the head of each table. All six have individual roles (serving the food, clearing up, fetching dessert and so on) creating a joyous demonstration of working together to reap the benefits of a cooked meal.
Pupils are given vegetarian fare so that any cultural group can sit together and enjoy the same food. We have a topic of conversation every day that, led by the head of the table, is discussed over lunch. Not only do these topics provide a platform to explain why we do the things we do (see my post on narrating the why), but it often gives us English teachers an excellent opportunity to speak about the joys of reading.
The last minutes of ‘family lunch’ are set aside for appreciations, during which pupils and teachers will volunteer themselves to show gratitude to someone. We hear anything from, ‘I would like to give an appreciation to Mrs X for helping me to become more confident when reading aloud’ to, ‘I’d like to thank my mum for teaching me how to iron my shirts.’ All we ask is that appreciations are specific and that they have something to be grateful for every day.
In this ‘Whatsapp age’, it’s hard to monitor how much time our young people spend communicating without distractions outside of school. Having daily time set aside to talk, eat and be grateful together is precious. It strengthens our relationships and allows us to have meaningful dialogues with pupils outside of the classroom. It’s a sight to behold and, without a doubt, the very best part of our day.