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?