I don’t know if you know this, but teachers don’t need to eat lunch.
Seriously, lunch is for the weak. Right now at my school, my lunch period is 25 minutes, and it’s sandwiched between two classes. I generally cram a tasteless Power Bar into my mouth because there’s always a line to heat up food in the teacher’s lounge microwave. I don’t have time to wait. While chewing furiously I’m also making copies of handouts, straightening up my room for the next class and trying not to leave crumbs all over the place.
The lunch “hour” we’re supposed to have gets crunched down to 15 minutes. I’m baffled by teachers who go out and get fast food during their lunch quarter hour. The stress of trying to get my food and get back would make me lose my appetite. Plus, I’m not going to save my food to eat later. It’s unprofessional to fight students over the last French fry.
Professional development days are the worst, because we get excited about the idea of having a longer lunch. On the schedule it usually says something like 45 minutes, or praise the Lord, an hour, an entire hour! What will we do with all that extra time? We start chattering to each other excitedly and make plans to meet up at nearby restaurants we can’t afford.
Because we’re all wound up over something that’s usually withheld from us, I’ve noticed that our administration tries to dial back our enthusiasm by manufacturing ways to shorten our lunch break. Disorganized training sessions is an effective method, since one session inevitably runs over. Another way to slice some time off lunch is to call a “quick team meeting, right when you get back, but before you go to your next session.” This is what we in education call “hallucinating” – like we’re really going to come back early.
Today I experienced probably the stupidest, and yet most creative way to try and cut into lunch. Our exciting PD session sputtered to a halt due to a lack of participation. We suddenly realized that we might have – gasp – MORE THAN AN HOUR FOR LUNCH! Everyone quickly started packing up. No one wanted to stick around and see if the administration changed its collective mind.
As two of my colleagues and I were sprinting out to our cars, we heard an announcement over the loudspeaker. “Teachers, this is a shelter-in-place drill. Please stay where you are for the next 10 minutes. I repeat, stay where you are until we have checked the building and given the all clear.”
I was halfway across the parking lot at that point. This was an emergency, so I started jogging. I must say, though, that I was impressed by the creativity on the part of admin to try and keep us in the building a little longer. We all agreed later that this method was ingenious, yet diabolically stupid. Teachers who stayed told us that they never got the all clear. After almost 20 minutes, they left.
The saying is that if you don’t feed the teachers, they’ll eat the students. If they don’t eat the students, they’ll drag lunch out and won’t return until halfway through their next training session.