Sheree Taylor 1-8-2010 Teaching Bell to Bell and Teacher/Student Proximity Teaching bell to bell is the term used interchangeably with student on task behavior in the classroom. Students need all the time they can get to work on educational activities even 5 minutes lost each day adds up to quite a bit of time over the courses of a school year. Bellwork is a very good way to assure that students are not wasting time while the teacher is taking roll and doing other administrative activities. Bellwork can be anything the students are able to do independently without asking the teacher questions.

It could be a review of a previous day’s lesson a short three or four question quiz, a short writing prompt or journal entry, a few vocabulary words from an upcoming or previous lesson, a prompted prediction or higher order thinking question to provoke interest in the upcoming lesson for the day. It should be something different each day, so that students do not become bored. Bellwork should be planned in advance, along with the regular weekly planning and should be something the students can complete in no more than 10 minutes time.

Bellwork does not need to be graded by the teacher. In fact, if students grade their own bellwork, they get immediate feedback and have the opportunity to ask questions if there is something they still don’t understand. Engaging students in time on task depends on the students the teacher has and the curricular goals the teacher is pursuing and will include any number of strategies that will fall into the following categories; explanation, modeling, guided practice and independent practice and can be paired with a proximity strategy.

Teacher/student proximity is reported in the literature as an effective classroom management strategy for keeping students on task, making smooth transitions from one activity to another, and decreasing unwanted behavioral problems related directly to time spent off task. Teacher/student proximity should limit the amount of time that teachers spend seated behind their desks. Walking up and down the rows or around desk groupings makes students aware of the teacher’s presence in the classroom. Teacher/student proximity should bring a sense of order to the classroom as opposed to a sense of oppressive supervision.

Excessive circulation around students may make them feel uncomfortable if they feel that the teacher is hovering over them and can become very distracting to students who have difficulty focusing on the task at hand when the teacher is constantly in motion, so should be kept at a level that heightens the teacher’s awareness of the classroom but also increases the involvement level of the students without becoming distracting. There are a number of ways that proximity contributes to a well managed classroom and decreases problem behavior in students.

First of all, when a teacher is circulating around the room interacting with and monitoring her students, she is, by definition, more engaged and involved with her class. She can see if students are on task, if they are in need of help, and she can also see situations that could become problematic and prevent problems before they occur. By moving around the room and mingling with her students, a teacher shows that she is available to help if necessary and that she cares about them. It also conveys to students that the teacher is in control of the classroom.

Proximity is also helpful during individual seatwork when a teacher circulates around the room looking for students who are struggling or who may not understand their assignments and need teacher assistance. Too much circulation though, can hinder students from moving toward independent thinking/work when they keep the teacher engaged with every part of an activity and do not think for themselves because of the ease of access and therefore must be tempered with time for students to work independently of the teacher’s input.

Teacher/student proximity works best when the teacher knows which students are most likely to act out in class, which students are likely to daydream, and which students provoke their peers. Teachers need to know their students so they can tailor their classroom circulation to prevent problems before they occur. Teacher/student proximity should target potential problem locations in the classroom and should be unpredictable. This will help keep students on task more because they never know when the teacher is going to walk their way to check their progress or to praise a student for a job well done or for staying on task and working hard.