February 22, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Lunch Bunch

It's been a little while since I've joined my bloggy friend Joanne of Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly linky.

I have to admit it- I am getting old(er)!  I not only am getting old(er), but I also have bad knees. My classroom is on the second floor of a very old school building which means lots of steps to climb. Suffice to say it is a chore for me to go up and down all day long. I only do the stairs when necessary! Lunch time is not a stair necessity so I began eating in my classroom last year. I normally pack my lunch, but if I do purchase a school lunch, one of my kiddos kindly fetches it for me.

At the end of the last school year we had a brand new, beautiful cafeteria addition built. It was such an improvement over what was with one exception. The new addition has a metal ceiling; metal reflects sound extremely well! We all know that kids need and like to talk during lunchtime. OH MY! Even when speaking in low tone voices, the new cafeteria is a LOUD place. This didn't seem to bother last year's sixers. This year's group though is quite different.

Around the second week of this school year, a couple of the girls asked if they could keep me company during lunch. They didn't like the idea of me eating all alone... little did they know that I LOVED the peace and quiet. As time passed there were a few more sixers joining us, some of them boys. They began to call themselves the "lunch bunch". It came out during our conversations (boy, have I learned a lot about 11/12 years old via these conversations) that they could not stand the noise level in the cafeteria; they couldn't hear each other to talk to.

By Christmas, nearly every sixer wanted to be part of the "lunch bunch" so we really had to set some limits. We talked about the responsibility of carrying food through the carpeted halls. If they spilled it; they had to clean it... not the janitor or another adult. Several students didn't like that idea so they opted to stay in the cafeteria. We also discussed that this was a time for peace and quiet. We wanted conversation, not chaos! A few others opted out. We also discussed the fact that "lunch bunch" was a privilege of sort... here's where the motivation comes in... so anyone who was not living up to being a super sixer shouldn't be eligible. I am surprised how a simple "Lunch bunch," softly muttered by me or a lunch bunch member brings any unruly or unacceptable behavior to a halt.

About 10-15 sixers join me each day for lunch. We have such wonderful talks... funny, heart-wrenching, sometimes bordering on a little inappropriate (think sixth grade boy) conversations. The kiddos also play games together or do their homework, but mostly they want to talk... with me!

Word of our lunch bunch has spread around the school. The guidance counselor has requested to join us, and the fourth grade teacher has asked to be invited. Just this week our principal stopped by to see... he couldn't believe that the kids wanted to eat upstairs in their room. He will be joining us soon as well. During parent conferences lunch bunch was a favorite topic. The kiddos had reported home that lunch bunch was so much fun!

What an INTERESTING motivator! I would've never thought that sixth graders would want to spend their free-time with their teacher... by choice! This motivator cost nothing, required no planning, yet was the BEST thing that we added to our school day. I have never been as familiar with any class as I am this year, nor enjoyed one as much... thanks to LUNCH BUNCH!


  1. I have a kind of lunch bunch myself - my special needs kiddos can earn lunch with me as a reward for appropriate behavior. I was also surprised at how many kids really wanted to earn this reward! I also have a homework club where students who complete at least 8 out of 9 weeks worth of homework, get lunch on me! (They usually like McDonald's). :) I really love your limits and might just have to "borrow" them. Thanks!!

    1. How fun that you have a lunch bunch! I was a bit disappointed that I had to add limits, but some of the kiddos got a little unruly. Just stating a limit seemed to work. I guess it was too much like school for some of them then. LOL! Hmm? A treat from McDonald's for a homework incentive???? I might have to try that or something similar. Thanks!


  2. Lunch Bunch is super motivating Angela! And, it's such a compliment that they want to spend their free time with you! :) It's a great time to bond and learn a LOT of information from 6th graders! LOL Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    1. Oh, Joanne, LOL! Some of the information I could do without. As I said... think sixth grade boy! LOL!


  3. This was so sweet. I sort of do lunch bunch...but mine comes in the form of a "reward card". This makes me want to eat lunch with a different group just because, and quit using it as a reward for good behavior. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I wanted a no-cost reward system this year, so I instituted Table Points and a Reward Lunch Fridays. Each of the tables in my four 5th & 6th grade classes earns points throughout the week for class preparedness, following directions, and general kind acts. On Friday, the winning table group from each class is invited (upstairs, as well) for lunch, where we watch funny YouTube videos and Looney Tunes. :)

  5. I love the lunch bunch! I think it's awesome that the six graders wanted to have lunch with you! One of my possible rewards is to invite a friend to have lunch with me. I just love it when students pick this. You are right. You can learn a lot about the students during these lunches.

    Have a great week!
    Fit to be Fourth


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