One of my favourite times of the school day is cafeteria lunch hour supervision. This time allows me to observe students and connect with them in a whole new way. I love that I am often invited to eat my lunch with them or have a casual conversation about hockey, soccer, music lessons etc. I leave the cafeteria with a smile on my face as I watch friends walk out giggling about Niall from OneDirection or rehashing moves made at hockey try outs.
Occasionally in the cafeteria I also notice isolation. In the past, I have had a quiet word with a kind student or two about inclusion and acceptance. These students are quick to pick up on my message and often they move to sit with the student eating quietly on their own. This past week, I was moved deeply by student initiated kindness on two separate occasions.
I watched a group of Grade 8 students huddle together over the table and heads would pop up and look over their shoulder. At first, I was suspicious, I thought for certain there would be mischief to follow! The friends quickly packed up their half eaten lunch bags and moved to a new location to surround a new student at our school. The smiles were instantaneous and new friendships were forged. That new student has not eaten alone since.
At the end of a busy, loud lunch hour the next day I was approached by a confident, outgoing, smiling Grade 8 girl. She whispered to me that she noticed a new Grade 7 boy sitting alone at lunch. She went on “Tomorrow, I am going to get two of my girl friends to sit with him!” That is precisely what she did the next day. The result was one smiling, confident young man walking out of the cafeteria with three new connections and three young women became peer mentors. I felt my soul sing with pride!
Tonight I watched this moving commercial:
We truly do not know the impact that an act of kindness will have on the life of another. But we do know that it can happen at school!