By Carolyn Jones, EdSource
Hoping to create calmer, more peaceful atmospheres on campus, schools around the state are turning off their bell systems and letting students figure out when class starts the old-fashioned way: by looking at a clock.
“The only places that have bells any more are prisons and schools,” said Chris Calderwood, assistant principal at Rancho Mirage High School near Palm Springs. “The bottom line is, every kid has a cell phone in their pocket. They know what time it is. Why not trust the kids to manage their own time?”
Rancho Mirage High, which opened in 2013, has never used bells. In creating protocols for the new school when it opened, Calderwood and other administrators looked at a range of policies designed to teach life skills and improve campus culture. Dumping the bells was one of them.
Instead, the school uses rattles — literally an audio recording of a rattlesnake, the school mascot. The rattle is broadcast just three times: when school starts, after lunch, and at the end of the last period. The rest of the day, students look at the clock and switch classes on their own.
The purpose is to teach students how to manage their own time, and create a more relaxed campus. Students say it works.
Saul Mejia, a 12th grader, said he’s rarely late to class since he started at Rancho Mirage.
“I’m used to it. I just check the time on my phone,” he said. “It’s good having no bells. People can keep track of their own time. I think it works pretty well.”
The school also requires students to wear lanyards showing their ID cards, and cell phones are OK in class. Students are encouraged to do research and other class-related tasks on…
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