You’ve heard it time and time again. You need to connect with your students in order to get through to them. Yet a lot of us simply aren’t doing it. I get it though – when do we have the time?! Well I am going to suggest something that is so easy but you will probably hate me for – but just hear me out.
Eat lunch with your students.
Are you done throwing stuff at me yet?
By all means I am not saying this needs to be a daily occurrence. No, no, no. What do think I am ? Crazy?!
It is extremely powerful if you set aside one day every two weeks – or even once a month – to hang out with your kiddos while eating. I would schedule this on my calendar so that I wouldn’t forget or let things get in the way. I definitely didn’t do it too often because that was my sanity time. Those quick 10-15 minutes that I got to myself to scarf down my food was MY moment for some calm among the chaos. On the days that I scheduled lunch with my kiddos, I would do a little extra in the morning so that I didn’t have to worry about making copies during my lunch time. You know what? I felt like I had MORE time to eat and relax when I was with my students.
When you eat with your students, take the time to just listen, ask questions, and enjoy. My kids totally thought I was a rock-star and yours will too.
Apart from the kids loving you for hanging out with them, your eyes will be opened up to so much. Listening to your students talk to each other reveals a lot of their vulnerability.
I will never forget eating with my students after a particularly tough morning with one of my boys. I was sitting with some of my other students but I was listening to his conversation with his friend. They were talking about what they had for breakfast. His friend told him all about the Eggo waffles his mom made and let him eat in the car. When it was his turn, he said he didn’t get any breakfast because his mom left after she had a huge fight with her dad.
Their conversation about that didn’t go further – I am pretty sure it switched to what their favorite lego set was – but I was crushed for him. His rough morning made sense to me. While I was SO frustrated with him before that moment it all went away and I just wanted to hug him. There is so much we don’t know and I think we forget just how bad kids can have it.
If you really don’t want to give up your lunch I urge you to find the time in your day to sit with your students and talk. Not about school stuff but about their interests and what they want to talk about.
Tell me: How do you take the time to connect with your students?