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Silent Lunch

Now hang on, if you are thinking this is going to be a post to support the silencing of all students while eating lunch in the cafeteria, you are wrong.  Well, maybe.  In my 7 years as an educator, I've never been a proponent of taking away recess time and/or asking students to not talk during lunch.  I've always felt those times are their times.  Times during the day when they don't have to deal with us teachers.  When they can freely interact with their peers, build social relationships, chew the cud if you will.

I don't think we need to turn our cafeterias into this...


Perhaps I've had a slight change of heart the past few days.  You see, my fifth graders decided not to make the best choices in their short jaunt to the cafeteria.  They sounded like a high school marching band marching down the hallway.  I decided to bring down the hammer.  Silent lunch for the first 15 minutes. It was wonderful.  The students finished their lunches before the time was up.  My stress level, along with the other 5th grade teacher, was down and I didn't feel like this...


Overall, lunch was quite peaceful.  It made me think, should we institute a no talking policy for the first 15 minutes every day?  I decided to poll the students to see what they thought of the 15 minute serenity.  
The vote came back 32 in favor of peacefulness and 39 against.

So, what do we do?

I remember when I was in elementary school we had a big stop light in the cafeteria.


No, it didn't look like that.  Basically, whenever the noise got too loud a teacher would switch it from green to yellow and when the decibel level reached that of a 50,000 seat arena, they would switch it to red which meant no more monkeys jumping on the bed.

As educators, shouldn't we teach self regulation?  Shouldn't our students be able to tell if they are being too loud and quiet down?  Is this how they are at Applebee's?  How do we teach that?

I've tried an iPhone app that measures decibel levels.  If the decibel level reached a certain point, the kids knew to quiet down.  Unfortunately, we don't have a big screen in our cafeteria for all of them to see at once.  I had to walk around showing them my phone, one table at a time.  Needless to say, that didn't last long.  Perhaps if we had the screen, they could use it as a tool to self-regulate.

My question is this Blogucators...how do you manage the noise levels in the cafeteria at your school?

How do you get your eatery from looking like this...


To this?



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