Bell to Bell

Be at the door before class starts.  Greet the students by name and welcome them to your classroom.  Have a self-starter question or thought on the board which the students know they are to think about before class starts.  Now is not the time for socializing.  Now is the time to teach the students that it is time for thinking and learning.  Your classroom door is the entry into a world of teaching and learning, exploration and excitement.

Teachers sometimes forget to copy a class assignment and are running down the hallway at the last minute.  So why do you get so angry with students who forget their pencils or books.  Everyone forgets something from time to time! Have a container of pencils or pens available on your desk.  Have a spare text or two ready for the students. Don’t waste your time arguing with the students over these little details.  Don’t waste your class time, remember, teach BELL TO BELL!

PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY! You want your students to pay attention and be on task, what are you doing?  Be there, be present, be in touch with your students.  People learn for people.  Students will run through walls for their teachers because they care about them.  Be there for them. That means BELL to BELL! Sometimes that BELL means going to their soccer game on Saturday to cheer them on. Then they know you care. Actions speak louder than words!!

If given the choice between a difficult path or an easy path, we usually choose the easy. It is not pleasant to struggle and suffer. It is also not easy to watch our students struggle, we ache for them, but it is in the struggle that they learn. It is from where growth and learning comes. You know the old saying, what does not kill you makes you stronger, or builds character. So the next time you are tempted to just give the answer to your students, think again. Let them work for it, for the learning is in the struggle. Teaching and learning BELL TO BELL is not a bad thing!

When asked the question are teachers born or made, I answer yes. If I had to assign numbers to it, I would say 50% of a great teacher is content knowledge, and 50% is a love of children and an ability to communicate with them. In terms of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, a great teacher has dominate verbal and interpersonal intelligences.
Because of this love, a great teacher never gives up on a child. They are just as happy when a student masters the concept in the last week of school as for those who understand it in the third week. They are passionate about what they do, a BELL to BELL labor of love!

Every championship team has a dynamic and motivational coach. These are coaches who win championships no matter where they coach. The players “run through walls” for them. They do it for the person who they believe in and trust completely. Well, children learn greatly (or not) because of and for you, the teacher. If you show the students that you care about them and make their class the most exciting place possible, they will learn.

BELL TO BELL teaching means the students describe your classroom as having Enthusiasm, Enjoyment, Vitality, Zest, and Challenging Satisfaction!

Forty years ago, it was not unreasonable for a teacher to require all students to sit still in class for lengthy periods of time. WOW, have times changed. It is not only unreasonable to require that students sit still, it is impossible for many (like me). Now research has shown us that motion can stimulate the brain for better learning and increase energy. We can use this to our advantage.

Movement deepens understanding! Movement boosts energy – Sometimes standing up, stretching, or running in place can be used to energize students when their attention is waning and their brains need an oxygen boost. Understanding children and using their natural tendencies to your educational advantage is part of BELL to BELL!

The culture of your school is the overall quality due to the dynamic collective sum of the beliefs and behaviors characteristic of all constituencies of the school. Every action of one participant in this society ripples throughout the school network.  The smallest unit of this culture is the classroom. BELL to BELL means the teacher has an abiding love of children with an understanding of and willingness to serve their needs!

Children don’t always like to comply with their teacher’s wishes. Do you think?? Most of them have the hands-on-the-hips eye roll with a “but everyone is …” down to a science. As their teacher, you are a role model which includes for some of this behavior. When you don’t follow a rule because you think it is stupid, or better yet, you allow and encourage them ignore a school rule because you and they think it is stupid, you taught them civil disobedience!
Here is what I think! Pay attention to details and have your students do the same.  Role model what a responsible adult does when wrong.  No excuses. Teach them in word and deed to follow the rules, even when you think they are stupid. Teach them that there are appropriate ways to address “unfair” rules.  Being a role model of honesty and integrity is part of BELL to BELL!

There are times when you are teaching and a student asks a question that gives you pause. You think, that’s a really good question. Should you stop your lesson and explore this related but new topic, or stay on topic? I understand that you should not go off on tangents with every question. However, I find it difficult to resist studying a topic in which the students are interested.  You can’t beat the excitement of discussing something that they suggested. So BELL to BELL is to seize that teachable moment, have fun with it, and show how learning is exciting!

Never discipline in anger!  If a student gets under your skin and gets you upset, you lose.  Remain calm and explain the cause and effect of the situation succinctly.  All actions have consequences, sometimes unpleasant consequences, but that’s a life lesson.  if the student persists, then explain that you will have this conversation at another time.  However, the other students’ learning time is valuable and will not be wasted by him or her. A class with BELL to BELL teaching and learning is one with respect for all members!

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