At the very beginning of the year, I suggested that we did without bells – that we just went to lunch when we were hungry or needed a break. This suggestion was met with outrage! The students hated the idea and I was forcefully opposed!
Two terms later and the children have suggested it to me. I guess the seed was sewn and they just took a while to get used to the idea. So we emailed a proposal to the principal and met with him to iron out any concerns and discuss just how this was going to work. In short, students must complete all their tasks for the week and attend any meetings they need to attend. So long as this happens, they can take their breaks whenever they like. If they are hungry, they can grab something to eat. If they aren’t concentrating as well as they could, they can go and have a run around. In theory, this sounds brilliant (to me anyway!) but I wonder how this will work in reality?
So today we gave it a go and it was really quite intriguing! For many children, the freedom really went to their heads and very little learning was done. About half the class utilised the freedom beautifully and balanced food, work and play extremely well (and it was quite surprising who those children were, in some cases).
We had a class reflection meeting at the end of the day and talked about what was succesful and what wasn’t. Children liked the freedom and enjoyed being able to go outside and have a break when they needed to clear their head. They thought the exercise, fresh air and getting a bite to eat when you were hungry was beneficial in enabling them to work more efficiently. However, they recognised that some children abused the privilege and came up with possible solutions for this problem, to implement tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the week goes…