Writing this post reminded me of the song “Pub with no beer”. Think of a pub and you think of beer, think of a bakery and you think of bread, think of a school and I’m sure a few people would mention bell as their answer.
Yet, my school has decided to abandon the school bell to signify time periods throughout the day.
The following passage is taken from the staff handbook:
The school will adopt a no bells policy and not use the traditional bells to announce the start or end of school or recess and lunch breaks. We are working towards establishing a calm, positive learning environment where we encourage chuildren to accept responsibility for time managmenet and self discipline. Children move calmly towards their classrooms at the start of the day and at the end of break times, as opposed to the mad rush that can happen in schools when music starts and the bell rings. By not having a bell we are also demonstrating respect for our community, many of whom are shift workers or stay-at-home mums with small children who do not need to be irritated by the regular unplesant noise of a clanging bell. We are determined to establish a culture that is in the best interests of our children and our community. Bells are an unnecessary relic from the past that have no place in our beautiful, modern school.
I will admit I was skeptical at first; how on earth were over 400 students going to make it back to their rooms on time without any signal that they were required there ? However, in the interest of innovation and willing to explore new ideas, I supported the idea.
So, at the end of each session the teacher would simply allow students to exit. Each of our classrooms has an external door that opens out onto our school yard. At the end of recess and lunch, the yard duty teacher would simply remind students that there was five minutes left till classes started and it might be good to start moving back to their rooms. This leads to a calm, orderly movement of people through the school back to their rooms.
No longer is there the mad dash of junior school students who bolt across the playground in a bid to be the first ones in line. I also haven’t encountered any students arriving back at class with issues that “happened when the bell went.”
The concept of no bells is one that has taken some getting used to. I’ve noticed when I haven’t been teaching how easy to be working through a task and be totally unaware of what time it is. As a staff we have also noticed the need for synchronised clocks throughout the building. This task has been taken care of by our maintenance staff but it doesn’t take long before they become out of synch again. (I’m hoping we can find a technological solution to this problem – The phones in classrooms all have a time display so I can see this being a solution to this problem)
Does your school operate without bells ? How have you found the experience ?