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Over the years, I’ve taught at lots of schools that have lunchroom monitors — particularly for the primary grades. Usually these monitors oversee the eating times. In my past experiences, many monitors like to tell homeroom teachers about the problems that surface over lunch.

  • Some children didn’t finish eating their lunch.
  • A number of children were out of their seats when they should be sitting down.
  • There were a variety of problems — from pushing to hitting to running around the classroom.

Looking at these past experiences from a Self-Reg lens, you can see the self-control mindset at play. There seems to be a need to enforce behaviour, with the belief that the actions of the children fall under “misbehaviour” when “they choose not comply.” But maybe the quick transitions over lunch are stressful for students. Maybe the reward and punishment systems that often work their way into these lunch monitoring practices create further stress and further behaviour. Maybe student actions are really examples of stress behaviour at play!

A Self-Reg Shift in Approaches

This year things are different. Since we have an eating table and all of our students do not break to eat at the same time, the monitors are coming down to play with the kids. My teaching partner, Paula, is showing these intermediate students how to quietly enter play and play alongside the kids. The focus here is on relationships. We know from Stuart Shanker that relationships are the backbone to Self-Reg, and we see and hear this in the calm environment that this monitoring time produces.

The problem now? It’s when the intermediate students leave, as we might not be transitioning during this time, but the older students are as they head back to their classes. But viewing the behaviour that we notice during this time as stress behaviour also helps. It changes our response to student actions. Yet again, we’re reminded of how perceptions change when you view behaviour through a Self-Reg lens. What have you noticed about lunchroom monitor experiences? Does changing expectations, change results? It’s interesting what occurs when you start to view experiences differently.