As always, and not new to Wheelock, the boys and girls talk freely to each other and move around to get utensils, ice cream and to use the facilities when needed. It is a misconception that the children are asked to be silent (unless an adult is speaking to them). We have a parent volunteer monitor the hallway between the bathroom and the cafeteria because some students could not manage without supervision. A parent volunteer distributes ice cream and parents help supervise the entrance to the food area to insure the students provide the correct information to the kitchen staff in an orderly manner. We also monitor to insure that each and every student has food and if not, for whatever reason, we make sure they get fed. Those structures are not changing.
An added responsibility of the cafeteria monitor is vigilance in supervising the whole realm of allergies to keep our students safe. I'd like to commend Beth DiGregorio for her hard work each and every day. Our cafeteria is a busy place!
To improve our cafeteria atmosphere and to implement our sincere intention, a relaxing environment for our children, here are some things we are going to do:
- We will play soothing music Monday through Thursday. For Fridays, different classes will be invited to bring in an age/language appropriate CD for consideration, hence Kids' Choice Fridays. Mrs. D. will draw one for the period. I sure it will be lively on Fridays!
- We will no longer provide consequences for the whole group. That has been a worry for many children who behave well. That strategy was intended as a short term intervention anyway, with the hope that peers would motivate the whole group. After considering this over time, it is not working, nor is continuing this type of consequence appropriate for the long term. If any student misbehaves in a manner that is dangerous or unsafe, we will address it individually and there still may be consequences, but for that child only.
- Stop talking when an adult says, "Give Me 5"
- Use appropriate table manners
- Keep hands to yourself
- Eat only your own food (safety/allergies)
- Use your money for yourself (Some students provide money to buy ice cream for a friend [without our knowing] and it has not been appreciated by many parents.)
I enjoy the boys and girls and want them to enjoy our environment. I still will count on you as our partners to support our staff and to reiterate good manners and expected behaviors as you do in your own homes. That and your feedback is important to us.
In my prior position, we had a lot of fun in the cafeteria. It was a lot smaller group but we played a lot of music and an annual spirit day, Tropical Day. It was tradition for Mrs. O. to teach the boys and girls to hula (great CD, with directions!!). It was FUN! So I am no stranger to balancing a high quality and rigorous education with attending to the needs of the whole child.
I hope these strategies alleviate any stress or anxiety the cafeteria was causing your child and that they enjoy the rest of the school year as Respectful, Willing Scholars achieving Success!