Teaching Bell to Bell

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Finding the right transition is like finding the missing piece to a puzzle.  It provides a bridge from one activity to the next.

Core scripture: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Message: Here is a typical scene in a few of my more chatty classes.  There is this moment of bliss where all are working.  All you can hear is the scribble of pencils on paper.  My timer will go off to transition to the next activity, and boom.  Chaos ensues.  I am putting out fires everywhere.  Patience wears thin.  And the next thing you know I have lost another two to three minutes of precious class time.

Ever been there?  Yep.  So, how can we tackle this problem?

My team made a decision yesterday to unify ourselves around a short but sweet transition.  The teacher will call out, “I say Cougar; you say pride … COUGAR … PRIDE!”  The class then claps three times and puts their hands on their desk, focusing their attention on the teacher.  Sure, it is still rough being that we only have been doing this for a few days, but it is beginning to work.

I was mesmerized at the transitions I saw at the Ron Clark Academy back in October.  The teachers pushed those kids from activity to activity through a plethora of chants, movements, and countdowns that ran as smooth as silk.  If the Cougar Pride transition needs some tinkering, we plan on trying out any of the following transitions to save time.

  1. Utilize movement. I learn this the hard way every day my kids have to sit for 50 minutes.  They get antsy.  They tip their chairs and go to grab Kleenex just to be mobile.  If you are doing a worksheet midway through the hour, have the kids walk up to get it.  Allow them to do a pair share activity, high-fiving a partner across the room.  Movement provides oxygen, which provides momentum to move forward.
  2. Countdown. The slow countdown from ten to zero works for some.  It is as if they don’t have their iPad out and ready to go, the world will explode or something.  Will it work for everyone?  Some will always test you.  Sometimes on purpose.  Keep your cool, stay positive, and encourage those kids to keep pace.  They will come around in time.
  3. Chant and clap. You know this one already!  It is what our team is practicing now.  We even saw Ron Clark teachers take this to an extreme, complimenting the transition with a dance move.  Did someone say movement?  We are not there yet, but it could be done.  Once the chant is complete, I do not waste a second.  I move on.

What we need to realize is that doing this midyear is going to be a struggle.  We must have patience.  We need to practice!  With practice the bad habits will dissipate.   Paul writes, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).  Not sure about you but I want that peace.  Every day.

It is time to teach bell to bell.  Take back that time that has been lost.  Claim it!  Own it.  Push those kids to perfection.

Challenge: Look at what might work for you above.  Find a new transition.  Practice it daily and do not be defeated if it is not perfect.  You will indeed save time with persistence and patience.

Song application: “Move” by Toby Mac


Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Just for fun: Praying with my 8-year-old lately has been somewhat repetitive.  Over the past month he has finished each prayer with, “And please let me collect all the Pokémon in the world.”  I simply smile and pray quietly in my head for God’s will to play out.  Otherwise, my house would be a mess of Pokémon.

Prayer: Father, help me teach bell to bell, making the best use of my transition time.  Amen.


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