How to Quickly Create a Successful Lunch Bunch
There are all kinds of classroom management strategies out there, but the best solution for behavior management is to be proactive. Building a positive classroom environment in which students feel safe and know they can trust you is paramount to avoiding behavior issues before they arise. While there are several ways to connect personally with your students, holding a regular Lunch Bunch is one of the simplest and most effective. Learn tips for making Lunch Bunch work for you.
Do you do Lunch Bunch? If you don’t, I suggest starting one next week.
There are various ways to make lunch bunch work in your classroom - you could use it as a class incentive for an earned milestone, host students who were exceptionally behaved for a sub, or more importantly, connect with those who are struggling.
However you manage it - and no matter how often you have it - just do it. Kids absolutely love it and you’ll soon find yourself looking forward to it as much as they do.
You’ll get to know all kinds of things about your students - things you’d never learn while going about your teaching day. And they’ll get to learn things about you - like how building relationships with them is more important than having 20 minutes of peace to yourself.
WHAT IS LUNCH BUNCH?
Lunch Bunch is simply having lunch with a small group of students in an area away from their usual lunch place. For teachers, it’s an important time to learn about your students. For students, it’s an opportunity to feel seen.
Before starting Lunch Bunch, decide your purpose. Many teachers have lunch bunch only as an incentive for meeting some type of individual goal, such as earning a certain number of AR points or scoring a certain grade on a test. I advise against this. No matter the goal, there will always be students who won’t meet it and end up feeling even more marginalized than they already do.
Lunch Bunch should be for everyone - not just “winners.”
HOW TO GROUP STUDENTS FOR LUNCH BUNCH
There are all sorts of ways to group your students for Lunch Bunch. Here are just a few I utilized over the years.
Eliminating Girl Drama. When I first started Lunch Bunch, I had a class full of mean girls. The drama was unreal and consumed the class. So I divided all the girls in my class into groups of 4-5 and made each group a Bunch.
While awkward at first, it eventually helped ease the tension. In a relaxed atmosphere, over lunch, the girls got to know each other outside of the drama and realized the others weren’t so bad after all.
Building Comfort. One year, I was having an especially difficult time getting my Book Club groups to gel. Getting conversations started, much less keeping them going, was painful. After several failed meetings, I decided to invite the struggling groups to Lunch Bunch.
We spent our first few lunches learning to connect on a personal level - talking about a shared love of video games, sports teams, hobbies - anything that put them at ease with each other. Because they felt comfortable with each other, their ease of discussing games soon transitioned to talking about books.
Combating Behavior Issues. Without fail, I’ve found that there are always underlying issues to any negative behavior issues in the classroom. What presents itself as anger is typically just pain, frustration, or hurt.
Get to the root of the anger and you can address the behavior.
Oftentimes a child simply needs to connect with others, feel part of a group, or make a friend. Lunch Bunch is a great way to do that. For more help on dealing with especially difficult students, see this post.
TIPS FOR MAKING LUNCH BUNCH SUCCESSFUL
Have a schedule. For me, this was my biggest struggle. I’d tentatively plan to have Lunch Bunch on Tuesday, but a report needed writing or copies needed to be made and it would get pushed to the next week.
But, here’s the truth - there will always be more work to do in a day than hours to do it. And there will always be a reason why you need those 20 minutes to catch up on some task rather than eat with your students.
Treat Lunch Bunch like you would a weekly staff meeting or lunch duty - a weekly event that can’t get rescheduled or put off until you “have time.”
I began scheduling Lunch Bunch on days I also planned to come in early and/or stay late. That way, I never felt like I had to squeeze work into every possible moment during the work day and be tempted to reschedule our lunch date. I used the time in the morning to work ahead or caught up at the end of the day.
Use preprinted invites. When I first started Lunch Bunch, I hand wrote passes for each student every single week. Such a waste of time! Having a preprinted form that you simply print, cut apart, and hand out was such a timesaver.
I’ve created Lunch Bunch invitations for you and posted them in The Treasury. You can use them as they are or make changes to the text with the included editable version. There’s even a template to print them on sticky notes.
Keep track. Make sure you meet with all students equally by tracking your Lunch Bunch meetings. By simply writing down dates of when you met with your groups, you’ll ensure there are no hurt feelings or feelings of favoritism among your students. This Lunch Bunch resource also includes a tracker that is quick and easy to use.
While Lunch Bunch isn’t a magical cure-all for everything that ails your students, it’s an incredibly easy way to build a positive classroom environment that involves nearly no prep and very little time. Test it out with your students next week and let me know how it goes!
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