Why I love doing break and lunch duty

By September 15, 2014 August 29th, 2017 12 Comments

I love doing break and lunch duty. I was given some advice early on in my career about using lunch queues to get to know your students. Don’t get me wrong, please don’t give me more, but I do love it (and not just for the free lunch – there’s no such thing as a free lunch). It’s just I think it is such a great time to engage and interact with students outside of the classroom environment. It’s a great way to demonstrate to all students that you’re a team player and a great role model. It’s a really good opportunity to catch up with students and ask them things like how their homework is going. When you teach a subject like mine, students don’t get 5+ lessons per week and so sometimes you can go a whole week and more without seeing them, particularly if your school runs a two week timetable. One of the things I like the most is that it often shows the school off at its best. The hustle. The bustle. It’s the breathing life, heart and soul of the school.

I’m not a tutor any more. It is one of the most rewarding roles as a teacher, to be a tutor. When I was one, I used to love seeing my tutees interacting with each other. Building their friendships. Chatting with them and catching up with them in a way that you couldn’t do during tutor time. One of my enduring images of duty was not long after we had moved to vertical tutoring in my previous school when I saw some Year 11 students helping out some ‘new-to-the-school’ Year 7s learning the ropes in the main hall. It was special.

If you don’t love duty like I do; here are some things I do to make the time a bit more endearing.

1.Smile. A lot. Say good morning or good afternoon to the students. Be happy. Even if you’re feeling like rubbish yourself, chances are that many of the students you speak with are having a tough time too. It’s difficult being a teenager or younger pupil. You might just make someone’s day.

2. Pick up a bin and take it to the students. Ask them if they’ve got any rubbish.

3. Ask students to pick up litter near them and put it in.

4. Be visible. Don’t just stand in your spot. Go to the students. If they’re not where your spot is, chances are they may well be nearby doing something that you should probably be keeping an eye on. Move to them.

5. Have fun. Tell a joke. Ask people what their day has been like. Ask pupils how their weekend was. Ask them what homework they’ve had that day. What they learned last lesson.

Don’t be a stranger!

What do you do when you’re on duty?

Mark Anderson

About Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.


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  • Jill Berry says:

    I agree with all you say here, Mark.

    I did duties throughout my career, including as a head. Getting out and about and making informal contact with pupils but also with staff (teaching and support) and, as part of an after-school Friday bus duty, with parents too, was invaluable.

    Senior staff, including heads, generally want to be visible and approachable. Doing a regular duty is a good, practical way of doing this – if it’s in your diary and a regular commitment it’s more likely to happen, rather than just being a good intention. It also earns you greater credibility among those for whom a duty is a non-negotiable part of their professional life.

    Just one word of warning – plan ahead, and if you’re going to be out of school when your duty falls, do a swap with someone else! Be the right kind of role-model!

  • Amanda says:

    I agree, lunch duty helps put all the paperwork, data and policies into perspective, occasionally I do think ‘I am too busy today’ but then 60 minutes extra screen staring won’t make me feel better, however 60 minutes talking, laughing & enjoying being with children always does.

  • […] 1. A duty, is a duty, is a duty. If you have a duty, then this is the same as having a class. You have a professional responsibility to attend and ensure the children under your care are safe and well look after. As someone with responsibility within school, and someone who wants more I need to keep this in mind. You can turn it into a positive and see it as an opportunity to build reputation and relationships with others. Check out this excellent blog from Mark Anderson on how to see duty in a positive manner. […]

  • […] out for them – look out for them whilst out on duty – see how their day’s going or if they resolved that issue with Mr Smith they were worried […]

  • […] 100%, I love teaching. As you’ll have seen me writing very recently, it’s those interactions and working with young people both in and outside the classroom that […]

  • […] The hubub. Not the humdrum. I recently wrote about why I love break and lunch duty and this reason why I love teaching pretty much goes to that. It’s the relationships you […]

  • […] This message resonates with me – one of my favourite parts of school life is the learning that happens between the cracks and outside of classrooms. It’s things like this that I feel are untapped areas of learning that can infuse in to the culture and ethos of a school that can make a massive difference. I have wanted to explore this idea further for some time although have written about it briefly here. […]

  • John C says:

    Well said – I had the best lunch duty at my previous school. I spent four out of five lunches supervising in the library. There are two very lovely and super efficient librarians who manage the desk and my job was to make sure that behaviour was conducive to the nurturing atmosphere of the library.

    This was amazing! It meant my job was to find out all the cool stuff kids were doing on the computers (and to find out the game sites to restrict with the monitoring software during lesson). It meant that I could have conversations about books, the universe and everything with the students. I could read the paper and even ran a chess club.

    Behaviour for learning improved in my lessons and I had the chance to get to know the students better. I miss that duty – but am loving the opportunity to get to know the students at my current school that my new duties provide.

    Thanks for blogging on this – great advice – we carry litter pickers for the students to use at my new place.

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