One of the interesting things that Voyagers’ students get to experience on a regular basis happens in the lunch ‘classroom’. Here’s what that looks like:
I arrive at our dining room for lunch and look for my place-mat. Mine is neon pink and green geometric designs that I made in the beginning of the year. Each community member designed a personalized place-mat, which was then laminated and can be used each day. Today, I’m sitting with Easy, Riley, Ian, Seth, and Lucas. We sit down and, despite the ages ranging from 5 years to 30-something years, have some lovely conversation. The students asked each other questions about their lives; there was good conversation about college and what that meant. There was an abundance of comfort in talking across the ages despite the inherent challenge. Each person at the table was engaged in the conversation. Sitting with different students each day not only builds comfort and collegiality throughout the school, but also gives teachers time to check in with individual students, to gain new perspectives on the social atmosphere of the population, and to make sure that each voice is heard. We are modeling good conversation etiquette and encouraging manners — in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
The classroom responsible for setting up the dining room also has the responsibility to shuffle and set the placemats down randomly. While in the past we’ve had lunch this way once per week, this year we are sitting in mixed up groups four days per week, making those groups that gravitated towards each other feel less intimidating to engage with. It is helping all of the students get to know each other’s names and find common interests. I have noticed friendships continuing into the yard at recess across ages.
Having lunch this way has allowed me to get to know different community members more fully and I greatly enjoy the experience. You should mix it up too!
Director of Operations, Teacher/ Researcher
Voyagers’ Community School