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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What are the best ways to move students in a bell-free school?

What are the best ways to move students in a bell-free school?

Related Tags: School Leadership
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The question came from Valerie Pitts in another discussion on the site, and we thought it was worthy of its own discussion.

We'll follow-up with Valerie to get more context, but in the meantime--what you're thoughts and suggestions? How do you move students in a bell-free school?

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Valerie Pitts's picture
Valerie Pitts
Superintendent at Larkspur-Corte Madera School District

We are opening a brand new school in fall of 2014. Bells are not consistent with our philosophy, guiding principles, and signature practices. We are wondering what other schools with no bells do to move kids from place to place - morning to class, recess to class, lunch to class, etc...I'm sure there are a number of great strategies to share!

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Valerie,
The middle school that I worked in had no bells, partly because we staggered transition times for grade levels so that 6th graders wouldn't have to worry about being in the hallways at the same time as the students. Honestly, if you say that bells aren't consistent with your philosophy, it shouldn't be too difficult to make it a part of your community expectations that teachers should dismiss students for transitions in specific timeframes. I'd recommend making sure there's plenty of transition time, partly to give students a omen to breathe, but also to give everybody some wiggle room as they feel out the dismissal/entrance cycle.

Valerie Pitts's picture
Valerie Pitts
Superintendent at Larkspur-Corte Madera School District

Thanks Dan. I was a also a principal at a middle school with no bells and the strategies you mentioned worked well. I'm also looking for elementary practices for lunch and recess, etc. or any thing innovative schools do that may not involve whole school lunches, recess or even start/stop times...of course, these strategies have to be cost neutral :-)

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

I'm in an elementary school now, and we don't use a bell, but we do follow a pretty traditional lunch schedule where two grades at a time go down to lunch and then recess, followed by the next two, flowed by the next two.

If you have to follow a similar kind of thing, I'm a big fan of recess before lunch. http://www.nea.org/home/43158.htm

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think in the K-12 school I was in there was at best three bells- one at the start of the day, one at upper school lunch, and one at the end of the day, and there really were very few issues.
I think teachers just have to be mindful of the time, and everyone has to be realistic about transition time between classes, but bells /buzzers are hard stops, perhaps. I think it actually encourages people to "wait for the bell" and to use time less productively rather than more so, so I'd love to see more bell free schools.

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