The students are randomly assigned to eight-person circular tables, which rotate depending on that day's schedule. Each has a mix of kids from different grades, with one teacher whose job is to get the table talking. Kylie says it doesn't always go as planned.When I went to school in the 1960s, this was how our lunches were conducted - about seven students at a table with a teacher. I don't remember whether grades were mixed, or how often the seating assignments were rotated, but it did serve a positive function in developing social skills.
"Sometimes it gets super awkward at tables," she explained. "Like the conversation goes, 'OK, what did you just come out of?' 'Math.' 'OK.' And that was really kind of where it ends."
But administrators say a little awkwardness is worth the trouble. Dean of Students Charlie Housiaux says forcing students to get out of their social comfort zones builds relationships that improve the school culture...
"A meal is the venue over which adults get to know one another and develop their social skills. But we treat that utterly cavalierly in most schools," Rice said. "I would urge schools to investigate what's going on in your own lunchroom... On top of that, we see students aren't rushing through the lunch line, they're not having anxiety about who they're going to sit with."..
"The lunch system is more kind of a relief from [the cliques,]" Burger said. "It doesn't reduce it in any way, from my experience. But it definitely, like, gives you a break."
Burger said there are times she would rather sit with her friends. But she thinks it's a good thing that at this school, no one sits alone.
24 October 2019
Assigned seating for school lunch
An NPR article looks at student life at the University School of Milwaukee, where students sit in assigned seats while having lunch: