Using "School Bells" in the Meetinghouse

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gregwanderson
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Using "School Bells" in the Meetinghouse

Postby gregwanderson » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:37 am

Going back to my childhood I remember that pretty-much every meetinghouse I've been to in North America has a "school bell" system in the hallways. Someone rings the bells 5 minutes before the end ofRelief Society/Priesthood meetings or Sunday School classes. Then they ring the bells again (two rings) at the moment those meetings are supposed to end. But last year we stopped using the bells in our stake. As far as I know, the Stake President personally instituted the policy when he was listening to an instructor wrapping up a lesson with a testimony and the obtrusive bells completely destroyed the moment.

But now, from my perspective, there's a new and predictable problem. It seems that none of the instructors in our ward knows how to watch the clock and, for some reason, every Sunday an instructor asks someone else, "How much time do I have left?" That seems to spoil the mood for me every week, making the instructor look unprepared.

I don't mean to say that our Stake President's policy is wrong but I wonder how this works in other places. Has anyone else found the perfect balance between order and "spoiling the moment"? Do you still use bells? In our meetinghouse they've actually removed the controls for the bells so you couldn't use them even if you wanted to.

Perhaps we'd still be using bells if...

1. The bell wasn't so loud.
2. The person ringing the bell just gave it a tap rather than holding it like it was a fire drill.

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Postby techgy » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:58 am

GregAnderson wrote:Going back to my childhood I remember that pretty-much every meetinghouse I've been to in North America has a "school bell" system in the hallways. Someone rings the bells 5 minutes before the end ofRelief Society/Priesthood meetings or Sunday School classes. Then they ring the bells again (two rings) at the moment those meetings are supposed to end. But last year we stopped using the bells in our stake. As far as I know, the Stake President personally instituted the policy when he was listening to an instructor wrapping up a lesson with a testimony and the obtrusive bells completely destroyed the moment.


Perhaps we'd still be using bells if...

1. The bell wasn't so loud.
2. The person ringing the bell just gave it a tap rather than holding it like it was a fire drill.


We're still using the bell system in the buildings in our stake.
I would tend to agree with your analysis though that, depending upon where the instructor is in the lesson, a ringing bell can be intrusive, although I don't ever recall anyone complaining about this in a meeting.

In every meeting there are "clock watchers" who would no doubt remind the instructor in some manner that their time was up, so doing without the bell system wouldn't be a big problem IMHO. Perhaps just mounting a clock on the wall in the back of the room so the instructor could see it would be more in line with keeping the meeting on time w/o the intrusion of a bell.
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marianomarini
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Postby marianomarini » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:59 am

We never used the bells.
Instructors are teached about end lessons time (we have a graphic time schedule to each class).
Any way, there is always one member, at least, that look the instructor pointing on the clock! :)
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:06 am

Another factor you may want to consider is making sure there's a clock in clear view of the instructor.

Along the same lines, it would be good to make sure that all instructors know what time the class ends. I don't know as most members are aware that the 3 hours block isn't divided in the three one-hour blocks. Instead, Sunday School is only 40 minutes long. That may not be such a issue with the "Sacrament First" schedule, but it could be a factor in the "Sacrament Last" schedule when Sunday School ends at a odd time.

As for bell-ringing, in my experience, one can not count on it. I've seen too much inconsistency. Bells that come at different times, if they're used at all.
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:09 am

marianomarini_vi wrote:Any way, there is always one member, at least, that look the instructor pointing on the clock! :)


I think most classes should have a class president or someone on charge who is not giving instruction. You may want to consider having the Bishop assign someone in each class to be the assigned "clock watcher" and give the instructor the high sign.
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Postby marianomarini » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:26 am

RussellHltn wrote:I think most classes should have a class president or someone on charge who is not giving instruction. You may want to consider having the Bishop assign someone in each class to be the assigned "clock watcher" and give the instructor the high sign.

We are Italian.:)
We don't use to build a structure to solve a problem that appear, said, once or twice every ten years!
We don't change instructor easly. and when this happen the new one could be a previous Bishop or Stake President or other well instructed calls.
The problem could raise when a new member is called.
We prefer some smile once in a while.:)
La vita è una lezione interminabile di umiltà (Anonimo).
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Postby lajackson » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:06 am

GregAnderson wrote:Perhaps we'd still be using bells if...

1. The bell wasn't so loud.
2. The person ringing the bell just gave it a tap rather than holding it like it was a fire drill.


I once had the calling of "timekeeper". My job was to attend Gospel Doctrine class and let the instructor know when it was time to quit.

We worked out a procedure where I would quietly hold up five fingers when time was short, then three, two, and one at the appropriate moments.

The instructor was good. The lesson summary always began right after I gave him the three-minute sign, he always shared his testimony between two and one, and then called on someone to give the closing prayer when there was a minute left.

There was no clock in the room. I was responsible for having a watch (this was a long time ago) that was accurate enough to fulfill my assignment. Most of the other class members never knew it was happening.

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Postby gregwanderson » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:45 am

lajackson wrote:Most of the other class members never knew it was happening.


That's the real key, in my opinion. If a self-appointed time-keeper raises his hand (as if offering an insightful comment) simply to tell the instructor to wrap it up, that can certainly spoil the moment too. (I've witnessed it.) We might as well keep using the loud bells.

I'm still a bit surprised that, even when there's a clock, many instructors don't seem to remember how long the meeting is supposed to last.

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Postby techgy » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:49 am

I recall an instructor in our Hp Quorum years ago who used to remove his watch and lay it on the table in front of him. It would act as a reminder of the time and since it was on the table instead of on his wrist, it was more visible and he could check the time w/o being so obvious. It apparently worked for him.
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Postby crisa » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:41 pm

My guess is that you're stake president isn't the only one that feels that way. We just got a new building about two years ago and there are no bells. To be honest, it seems that it is rare that we go over at all.


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