I am very curious about the cafeterias in other schools. We are an elementary school with grades 3-6 and our teacher assistants do lunch duty. Unfortunately, our principal lets them have very little control and discipline. The kids are way too loud, out of their seats numerous times, and have no table manners! I understand that lunch is their free time and time to visit but I just wish we were teaching them to visit and not yell!
Another thing that bothers me is the amount of food that is wasted! Because of state laws they are required to pick up 3 items. Some get just those 3 and others get more than 3. The waste is amazing! So many items are thrown away that have never been opened or even partially eaten........cartons of milk, bananas, apples, individually wrapped items (muffins, poptarts, etc) and the list goes on!
I teach K....so I'm not sure about the upper grades. I think it gets pretty loud and wild in there! We don't get duty free lunch, so our cafeteria is a little calmer because the teachers are eating with their students. That is unfortunate that the assistants don't do a better job of discipline in your cafeteria! Maybe there needs to be some kind of school wide meeting or announcement about behavior in the cafeteria!
About the waste...that has always bothered me as well!! We are also required to get three things. I cringe every time I watch the untouched food go into the garbage! We try to have them share, like if they are not going to eat it we let them give it to someone who will. This way, not as much goes to waste!
School cafeterias in general could certainly use some improvements all around!
We are a K-6 school, and our lunches are staggered by 5 minutes. Kindergarten's lunch is 11:25-11:55; 1st is 11:30-12:00; 2nd is 11:35-12:05, etc. So... we have one full lunchroom! It's chaotic with kids entering and leaving every 5 minutes. But...we are a PBIS school, so we have taught, retaught, and reinforced cafeteria rules with the kids. It is chaos - but it is organized chaos. If there isn't a school-wide discipline system at your school, try doing it on your own - take your class to the cafeteria (when it's empty) - have the kids show you the correct way to act, then the incorrect way, and the correct way again (they love doing the wrong thing!). I always tell my kids that the other classes may act crazy, but they need to be the good examples of what you should do. That really works with my kids - but I have a really, really good group this year.
As for the waste - I hear you there! Once a month I have kids eat lunch in the room with me. Most of them throw their entire lunches away, or will just take one or two bites. But, honestly, I can't say I blame them. Last time we did lunch in the room, they had "meatloaf." It was a hamburger patty with no bun. They also had jello and fruit - only the jello was runny because it looked like they took a can of fruit cocktail, without draining it, and mixed it in with the jello. Our cafeteria lunches are pretty bad. I'll only have 3-5 hot lunches on any given day.
Our school uses the PBIS (positive behavior and intervention supports model) throughout the school. This sets up specific behavior expectations in each area. These expectations fall under respect for self, others, community and property. We teach these through videos made by kids and adults as well as with posters and reteaching times throughout the year. Students are rewarded in various ways for positive behavior.
Also at lunch, our students are expected to sit at one table and not get up until their table is dismissed. Students have timers at each table (the first kid to sit down sets the timer) and they may not ask to leave for recess until the timer goes off.
Since everyone in the school supports this PBIS model in all areas, it makes for consistancy and students understand expectations. Our behavior issues have decreased dramatically over the last four years
Oh, I also teach at at 3-5 school =)
We have taught our kids the lunchroom procedures, and they follow them pretty well. When they don't, there are consequences that range from verbal reprimands to whole cafeteria silent lunch with students in assigned seats.
Normally our kids sit where they want. They can't get up once they are seated, and they have to keep the noise level down.
As far as food-waste goes, anything that is still wrapped, including fruit with a peel, is placed on a table near the trash line. Kids who want extra can get it.
Assistants pull lunch duty where I am at as well. They are however backed up by the teachers and the faculty as lunches aren't free for adults unless they eat in the cafeteria with the kids. Which they all congregate around one or two tables, however the presence keeps the noise down and if anything gets out of hand the teachers are there to back up the assistants. Oh, and there is no teacher's lounge as this would defeat the idea, b/c everybody would go there to meet and eat. There is a 'closet' with the usual, coffee pot, coke machine, fridge and microwave, but no seating.
As for wasted food, I don't have any suggestion on that, but at our school milks and juices that aren't opened are placed on a rack and anyone wishing to have an extra is allowed to get one if they ask first. If those milks are still there when that section of kids leaves, they are tossed due to safety.
we worked on a whole plan last year for lunch room behavior. Out cafeteria was AWESOME last year!! The principal ate with the students every day, and it was very quiet and orderly.
This year we have a new principal. We still follow the same rules, but he doesn't step foot inside the cafe, so it is a little louder than last year.
I have my kids keep all wrapped items and fruit with them if they are not going to eat them instead of throwing them away. I have a bag that I put them in. Once I get back to the classroom, they go on my back table. ANY time a student is hungry during the day...usually after the afternoon recess, right before they go home, they are allowed to take a snack.
A lot of times, kids can't eat all that food at one sitting. I teach 5th grade, and I still have kids give me what they didn't eat at lunch, and then they will eat it later on or the next day in the classroom.
We have recess Before lunch now...it works out great. It used to be that kids would hurry up and eat (or waste food) just to go outside to play. Now, they get 15 minutes to work their energy off, then head to the cafeteria to eat. They are well behaved while in there for the most part.
Our cafeteria situation is the exact opposite behavior-wise. I teach in an inner city school and the AP supervises the assistants on lunch duty. The students must sit in pre-assigned seats and are not allowed to talk at all. If they do talk, they have to sit by themselves. It makes me sad that there can't be a happy medium between a military state and total chaos. IMO, we are missing an opportunity to teach our students appropriate social behavior. When I go to pick up my students from the lunchroom, they are so hyper because they have just spent the last 30 minutes holding in all that pent-up energy during a time when I think they should be allowed to relax a little.
The waste is also annoying. Not only are the students forced to choose so many items, but they are under no circumstances allowed to bring anything out of the cafeteria. So even if they choose a package of pre-wrapped cookies and do not eat them, they can't put them in their pocket and save them for later--they must be thrown away. More commonly, though, the main course is so disgusting that the kids end up eating only the cookies and entire meat/vegetable portions are thrown away. I understand the need for social programs like free/reduced lunch, but why can't it be implemented in a more sensible, cost-efficient manner?
We eat with our students. Lunch begins at 10:30 a.m. and another group comes in every 5 minutes. We have a PK-12 school. Middle school eats at 11:30 AND H.S. eats at 12:15.
It is loud and chaotic. A few of the teachers monitor their students and make sure they have eaten their lunch BEFORE they buy ala carte(cookies/ice cream). However, I am disgusted that many of our new teachers eat at what must be a 'teachers table' and don't seem to pay any attention to their students.
Their '30 minute duty free lunch' is when the students are out for recess. So, it seems llike SOME have 60 minutes to do nothing.
We had a noise problem too, so we had the music teacher make a CD that plays 5 min. of music and then goes quiet. When the music is playing the students must stop talking and eat. When the music stops, then they can talk to the students sitting around them.
If the students do not want extra/left over food/drinks, they place it in a location and it is handed to students at the end of the day who might not have enough food at home.
cafeteria staff that keep it to a dull roar. At my school it also depends on the teachers and how they are with their kids. We have some classes that never receive consequences for out of control behavior. My class receives consequences for when they get out of control. They also have to be polite and are not allowed to do "caveman talk" (point and grunt) to the cafeteria ladies.
The wasted food is a whole other issue. Our kids are not allowed to share food because of germs. School Policy. We don't make them take milk if they don't want it. They do have to take three items. Luckily we have real fruit most of the time so they eat that or take it home.