Friday, November 4, 2016

The Lunch Bunch

Last year our middle school made some revisions to our schedule across all grade levels that would present new challenges for our students. We added time to our instructional periods, added Spanish as part of the core content team, and went from a 9 period day to one with only 8 periods. Lost as a result of these changes was our Flex period which empowered our students to complete homework, makeup tests and seek extra help from their teachers. Having this period included in their day traditionally eased the transition for our students from fifth to sixth grade.

The challenge that faced our team was providing time in our instructional day to meet the needs of our students that went beyond the instructional class period. The solution evolved organically as dedicated teachers began inviting students to join them for lunch.  An opportunity to build relationships with our students while providing individualized instruction began taking shape. Initially a few students took advantage of the opportunity and then they began inviting their peers. In the meantime a relaxed environment was created where students took advantage of the chance to connect with their peers and their teachers.  Thus the "Lunch Bunch" was born.

Our students demonstrated improvement and were experiencing academic growth because they were willing to buy into this lunch time enrichment opportunity. Their commitment to their learning definitely was paying huge dividends. 

The success of the first year led to a willingness to continue the initiative this year.  Earlier this week I experienced a session with our "Lunch Bunch" in Mr. Hughes's classroom. Students were eating lunch, interacting with peers, working on Math assignments and soliciting the guidance of Mr. Hughes.  I was impressed by the relaxed yet structured environment that Mr. Hughes had voluntarily created. Students were taking advantage of the chance to improve in Math and build relationships with their peers and teachers.  Joyful learning was evident throughout the classroom.

The responsibility of educating today's youth presents monumental challenges in the 21st century. As a sixth grade team leader I am proud of the innovative initiatives implemented by our team to meet these challenges and help our students. The creation of the "Lunch Bunch" is yet another exemplary method, designed to do just that. 

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