Breakfast Club, Literally

Two weeks ago, I served my third session supervising Saturday school detention.  When I arrived, the other two teachers and I separated students into three groups.  In my past two sessions, my group consisted primarily of juniors, both male and female.  This time, one group of freshman, sophomores, and juniors filled up one teacher’s classroom leaving sixty plus seniors between the other teacher and myself.  He asked me if I was OK splitting the remaining students along gender lines, to which I replied yes.  For some reason, I requested the boys, and a testosterone laden morning followed.

Upon arriving in my classroom, taking role, and queuing up a DVD movie: Narnia, boys started asking if they could order food for delivery to the school.  When teaching, I never allow something as absurd as students ordering food to eat in class, except for Pizza Pi Day recently, or when offering after-school SAT prep, or similar late, into the evening; brains need fuel.  However, supervising Saturday school provided the opportunity to explore student behavior on the edge of standard expectations, for students and for me.

Hence, Mr. Math Teacher proceeded where he never ventured before, and perhaps few other teachers.  I permitted students to phone in orders for breakfast skillets, pancakes, and scrambles from local eateries.  Fortunately, I knew a few of the more popular and influential athletes, which helped keep behavior in check much of the morning while food deliveries started flowing into my classroom.  In some ways, I am not sure who was more surprised I consented to their requests, the boys or me!

As Ferris Bueller opined: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Bueller - Life moves pretty fast...


About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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7 Responses to Breakfast Club, Literally

  1. JMK says:

    They get a movie for detention? Really?


  2. Dave your senior ( experience and age only) says:

    food for thought ? Thats a lot of detentees.


  3. JMK says:

    Well, that’s certainly a reason to condemn public schools. Why wouldn’t a kid cut class, if he gets to order pizza and watch a movie on Saturdays while encouraged by a teacher being paid on the taxpayer’s dime?

    Saturday school at my institution is four hours of sitting still. If it’s not something to be avoided, you won’t fix the problem.

    Definitely wouldn’t think of it as a time for bonding.


    • Wow, thanks for the support, JMK. I suspect one could condemn public schools for nearly anything and everything these days. With my hypersensitive lenses on, I can see the issue you point out. As a different view, where prior punishment only models have not succeeded, I believe it had merit from an experimental standpoint. As a taxpayer who’s paid close to, if not over a million dollars in taxes, I believe alternate approaches to the ultra penal mode you describe may be worth investigating. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all. My approach is to relate to the students in ways that open future paths to dialog where the truancy issue may be addressed more effectively, and perhaps even on my own dime.

      Having said that, it was not all tea and crumpets. Stern lecture delivered. Essays required, and sent back multiple times for revisions. Individual discussion with nearly each student during this process. I say the public obtained a positive ROI that morning in social services. Most importantly, they were disconnected from the pervasive social media grid, which in this day and age approaches cognitive starvation.

      Hope all is well and you can see the positive, supportive side of my approach to a unique situation.



      • JMK says:

        I’m assuming that you are using this mode of Saturday school because you are forced into it by the school. Hence my criticism. If you are doing it of your own volition, then think about how unfair it is for some kids to get a strict Saturday school while you turn it into fun day. If it’s not of your volition–which is what I assumed–then I would encourage you to speak up to change it to something less fun.

        I don’t think essays change the underlying reality. If you make Saturday school a pleasant place where kids have to write an essay and see a movie, then they’ll continue to cut class because the penalty is less troublesome than the classes they are cutting.

        Cutting class hurts students’ academic outcomes. Tardy students disrupt class for everyone. Therefore, the purpose of Saturday school is to minimize absenteeism and tardies, not turn it into something they go “yeah, I’ll cut math 5 times because it’s not all that bad. Go watch a movie, eat pizza. If I memorize an essay I can even have the hard part done! Plus, bonding time with Mr. Dave, which is much more fun that chemistry.”

        It doesn’t really matter if you mind your taxdollars being spent that way. Since I, too, paid a lot in taxes before becoming a teacher, and since there are also many, many people who paid a lot of taxes still today, I don’t think the critieria of “I pay taxes, I don’t mind” is a particularly good argument in response.

        Of course, there are plenty ways to waste taxpayer dollars, and that’s not my primary criteria. But in this case, Saturday school is supposed to be minimized, an outcome to be avoided by engaging in better behavior for the student and his classmates. Whether it’s you or the school, I would submit that fact needs to be considered and assessed.

        There are plenty of ways to bond with students without using an expensive Saturday to encourage them to engage in unproductive behavior because hey, you make the “punishment” kind of fun. More fun than class.

        Not sure what “supportive” has to do with it. If I’d thought you were creating a fun Saturday school in violation of school policy, I would have thought the same thing but not mentioned it at all. Which probably would have been the limit of my “support”.

        But if you feel strongly about it, then you shouldn’t mind an alternative view.


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