There are some teachers who will tell you to “limit your contact time”, others who have said, “your nuts!” While they are right about the second assertion, they will never convince me that spending social time during the school day with students is a bad idea. I know where they are coming from in trying to protect that time’s existence, but I can choose the company I keep during “non-teaching hours”, and for me the best company are students.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I work with, they are awesome! But, I have so little time to spend talking with students, catching up on their lives, sharing stories and interests. I try to eat lunch with students at least 2 times a week, but on a good week, I get to do it as many as 4! I always liked to bring my entire class back to the room for our Friday Matinee Lunch, where the kids pick a movie and we watch it (in 25 minute chunks) for a few weeks. I tend to have a crowd at my table because, YOUR STUDENTS LOVE YOU! They all want to spend time with you where you do not have to be the Captain of all things school related, and just get to be your awesome self! I used to love eating lunch with my Bio-Chemistry teacher in High School (and continued to do so after I was no longer in his class). I remember next to none of the lessons, but I remember a lot of the stories we shared. It is even more valuable for younger students.
Sure, there are days when you really would rather just exhale and be alone. For me, I tend to work most of the days that I do not eat lunch with kids, I enjoy the quiet. But, I LOVE taking former students in small groups, taking my current students as a class or in small groups, and spending some time catching up with them. After all, you are an educator because you love two things learning and kids. You spend most of your time driving kids to learn and improve. The day is so packed that you rarely get to hear their stories.
Do yourself a favor, at least once a week, eat lunch with kids, they are REALLY GOOD COMPANY!