I had the pleasure of listening to 5th grade students share their proposals to relaunch the lunch experience at their school. There were a few issues that the students were looking to solve:
- Students who get hot lunch need healthy, delicious food choices everyday to include vegetarian choices in order to avoid food and money waste and get nutrition for the rest of the day
- Students need more time in order to play, eat, line up, and transition to be relaxed.
- Students need choices and flexibility in seating in order to feel valued, respected, and trusted.
- Students need a way to change the music at lunch in order to have amore enjoyable lunch experience.
Regardless of the need being solved, a theme quickly emerged – Agency. Or lack thereof.
One student explained in his presentation: “In the classroom we are always told to be ‘Be quiet!’ by the teacher. And then at lunch we are told to ‘Be quiet!’ by the lunch aides. When do we get to unwind and let our energy out?”
Another student shared that “KidzBop is dreadful,” so as a reward for behaving, it is truly missing the mark.
Other students shared that the playground should be a place to play freely, and not be limited in choices by the adults supervising the area.
And when it came to food, many were in agreement that having parents place orders at the start of the month did little to satisfy their taste buds later in the month.
Regardless of the need being solved, a theme quickly emerged during the presentations – Agency. Or lack thereof. These students wanted to have input into the routines impacting their day. They wanted choice. They wanted freedom. They wanted voice.
Their proposals were all awesome: Music committees to analyze lyrics of songs requested by students so as to create playlists; student-generated rules to provide equitable access to playground; and healthy food vending machines that not only provide choice, but also generate revenue for the campus.
Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. If they are to lead well, we must give them opportunity to develop agency. You never know… they just may do a better job than we are!
P.S. I’ll be excited to hear what changes result! Final presentations are next week, right before Spring Break. Stay tuned…
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