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Ten things you should know about dinner ladies

By June 8, 20164 Comments

Ok, so straight up – the first thing you should know is that they’re not dinner ladies, they’re ‘lunchtime supervisors’, okay?

One of the best bits of advice I could ever give to a trainee teacher or to an NQT would be to make sure that you make friends with all of the different support staff you have in your school. Not just the people who work in the main office, but the caretakers, cleaners, everyone… they have their finger on the pulse of school life like no other and you would be foolish to not take the time to make friends and pay respect to the important, difficult and often low paid jobs that they do. In this post, I’ll be sharing ten things that you should know about dinner ladies lunchtime supervisors.

  1. Often, lunchtime supervisors will have their finger on the pulse of student life in the school in a way that most teachers don’t. Sometimes this can be because they are a parent of a child in the school, sometimes it’s because of the conversations they hear over lunch – either way, they are a great source of information around safeguarding and school life.
  2. Lunchtime supervisors know the children really well. They interact with them on a daily basis and often know their names and backgrounds well too. This can be helpful.
  3. Lunchtime supervisors are often members of the local community, much more so than the teaching and leadership staff in the school. They will often have brilliant local information which may be pertinent to the every day running of the school. Develop strong relationships with them and talk with them regularly.
  4. Lunchtime supervisors are often fantastic role models for numeracy – make a point of showcasing this to children in the school and promote this.
  5. Lunchtime supervisors often have fantastic behaviour management strategies for keeping children in check over their lunch breaks. Their input into school policy and involvement in important opportunities like induction are invaluable.
  6. Lunchtime supervisors often have or have previously had children of their own at the school. Around your good working relationship with them, make use of this to get their perspective as a parent and colleague about school life. Their insights are invaluable as a stakeholder in their school community.
  7. Developing a good working relationship with lunchtime supervisors is always a good idea. You never know when you might need their help. They’ve helped me in many ways over the years, such as: giving me a loan lunch when I’ve forgotten my wallet, helped me set up the hall for a lunchtime event, helped me clear up the hall after a lunchtime event. Having a good relationship with these colleagues, knowing their names, engaging with them is so very helpful and helps create a really good culture; not just between you and them, but for the whole school too.
  8. Lunchtime supervisors are often a great team of workers. They have to be in order to get all of the food prepared and sorted in time for lunch. When I have taught some courses in the past, their ability to work well as a team is something I’ve highlighted to my students and they have undertaken studies to observe how they work. This could be used as an example to children in other ways about good team work for when they are working in groups in the classroom. As always, lunchtime supervisors are just superb role models and their work can be utilised in many different ways to support work in your classroom too. They’re also often more than happy to help cater for meetings, sandwiches for training days, refreshments for Parent evenings and other events where food might be required in the school. Have a word (make sure you give them plenty of notice!) and I’m positive they’ll be very happy to help.
  9. In my experience lunchtime supervisors are very creative with the ingredients they have, particularly in making the 5 a day ingredients appetising to the children in your school. They are a great role model for healthy eating and I’ve always found their creative dishes helpful in my creation of healthy foods too (although I do still love fish and chip Friday).
  10. I don’t know about you, but my good working relationships with lunchtime supervisors has nearly always ended up with a really filling lunch. If you’re not being offered extra/bigger portions then maybe you should look to further develop your relationship with your lunchtime supervisors!

One final thing to say that has always helped me with my relationship with lunchtime supervisors has been to make sure that I am a really visible presence at break and lunch times in the hall. Doing what you can to help keep children focussed on positive mealtime attitudes and behaviours has always helped in my relationship with them. It also gives you a great starting point for a conversation!

Thanks for reading!

Mark Anderson

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


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