The other day, as I returned from my prep, a child asked me, “Did you eat your yogurt?” Pretty soon, a conversation started around us about yogurts in our lunches, favourite flavours, and ones that we’re hoping to try. This might sound strange, but this year, yogurt’s connected us.
It all started when I noticed that a child had the same brand of yogurt that I did: Oikos. I mentioned this to her, and she started to share the flavours that she’s tried. I said that I’ve had these flavours before, but recently, I bought the gingerbread variety. I quite like it. She hadn’t tried this flavour yet, but another child did. A few days earlier, he showed me that he had the “chocolate banana” flavour, which he used to eat last year when we were online together. I mentioned it was “one of my favourites,” and now he loves to show me when he has it. Another child showed us the reusable container that he has in his lunch. “I have yogurt too,” he said. It looked like vanilla.
A couple of days later, Paula returned from her lunch with an Oikos yogurt. A child noticed. She asked, “What flavour is it?” Peach. Across the room, kids commented on having tried or not tried this flavour. I haven’t, but Paula says it’s quite good. Others had suggestions of yogurt flavours to try. Paula said, “I have a shopping list in my pocket. Why don’t you add to it?” And so, as the school day comes to an end and a few kids finish their lunches, one child gives Paula a list of yogurt flavours to purchase and does a little reading of a grocery list.
I share this story, for one thing that I miss the most during these past couple of COVID school years, is our eating table. While this table might not be able to exist again anytime soon, these yogurt stories remind me that in a different way, we might still be able to connect with kids over these small moments.
- Maybe it’s about food.
- Maybe it’s about sports.
- Maybe it’s about hobbies.
- Maybe it’s about pets.
- Maybe it’s about something else entirely.
I don’t think it really matters what it’s about. Instead, what matters, is finding these couple of minutes to chat and connect with kids. Our yogurt talks take seconds out of our day. Usually, kids ask me about the “yogurt in my lunch,” as they say, “hello,” on the way in. Sometimes the question comes before the “hi.” But this quick conversation tells us a bit more about children and what matters to them, and it gives them some added insights about us … beyond us as educators.
This year, our Board prioritized mental health and well-being, and provided choice boards of lessons that educators delivered for almost the first two months of school. Some of these lessons are still being explored now.
As Paula and I reflected on the yogurt talk during lunchtime yesterday, we realized that it’s these kinds of smaller conversations that can still allow for check-ins with kids when longer lessons are not possible. It’s what helps us build relationships with them. This is my sixth year working with Paula, and until I started to, I don’t think that I ever took the time to get to know students as more than learners. I couldn’t tell you about …
- their pets,
- their siblings,
- their families,
- their favourite and least favourite foods,
- their extracurricular activities,
- their hobbies,
- and the list goes on.
Now I try to prioritize truly getting to know kids. I think this is where relationships start. What about you? How do you get to know more about students beyond academics, and what might be the value in doing so? I’d love to hear about your yogurt moments. While they might seem inconsequential, I wonder if they might be some of the most important moments of our day.
In my class this year it is cheese! Lots of different types of cheese coming to school and being discussed—in addition to the form in which we bring it to school—cut into cubes, a cylindrical cheese string etc.
Thanks for sharing this, Laurie! We’ve had some cheese conversations in the past as well. I wonder if food naturally provides these opportunities to connect, even if it has to be from a distance.