Nov302009

School Bell System

School Bell System

This website is dedicated to the School Bell System.    From ancient times until now the Bell has been used to signal the start or the end of class lessons.    The Chinese used their square clay gongs over 1000 years ago for this.   The hand bell has been quite popular and low cost for the last 400 years.   Then came the electric bell about 150 years ago. which was a revolution in convenience, giving the ability to operate many bells with one button press.

Mar302010

Smooth Working School Office.

A resent school I visited also used students to ring the hand bell 5 minutes before end of morning and lunch breaks. Then the office staff operated the manual bell button. There were a few difficulties noticed, the position of the manual bell button was 20 meters down a hallway out of site of the school staff. It must have been a real chore for the Office Staff getting up out of their seat and walking down the hallway 14 times a day to operate the bell, I suppose it’s good exercise. This repeatedly interrupted the staffs consentration each time they needed to operate the bell. Another funny thing was they also got so use to the problem they just put up with it until a teacher temp said why not use an electronic school bell. The light bulb lit up when they googled “school bell system” and found there were automatic bell systems that cured their problems.

The main problem was the Electic Bell Button was manually operated by the staff, because the kids couldn’t be trusted to ring it on time without fail. I hear these issues so often.

They installed a school bell system and now its a Smooth Working School Office, without the stress. Another happy school.

Mar242010

Schools with Hand Bells have the same problems

I interviewed another school that used a hand bell for class change etc. They would get a student to walk around the school swingging the hand bell for about a minute to make sure everyone hears it, about 13 times a day. You know what, they told me the student doesn’t always turn up, then they have to rush around ringing the hand bell themselves. This is a common story I hear, where the Bell Monitor Student eventually gets the sack because they are not reliable, and the staff take back the job because it’s easier than looking after the kid. Then it become a chore, and they look to automate the bell.

Mar082010

School Bell Systems

School Bell Systems

How simple is it to operate a manual bell button, which operates the electric bells placed around the schools of today. Sure easy, you press the button and the bells ring. Now make it your job to ring it 14 times per day, and you cannot miss one or be late. Yeah ok, you say can’t be that bad.  But you didn’t realise they didn’t say for the whole year.  Now after a few weeks it starts geeting hard to keep time etc. Not so simple now.

This is one job that needs to be automated, and it is quite easy to do. The task can be replaced with an electronic timer. There are a few different types and it is worth speading time choosing a good one. The cheap small self contained timers will cause more problems than they are worth. They are fiddly to program, inflexible, small memory, basically junk.  Anything mechanical, it’s past its day, through it out.  Audio based sound systems oddly still play Bell Sounds, the overall cost is high to implement, the schedules seem to be modified 7 day timers. It is best to avoid the 7 day timer format, it dosn’t program ahead far enough. Automatic daylight saving and leap yearmust be automatic, many schedules and many bell operations are needed now. The BellMinder is the one that fits the task exactly.

Mar022010

The Invisible Stress of Bell Ringing at schools

Bell Ringing stress.

You would be amazed what I’m about to say. There is an unforeseen stress in school offices which can be cured in a couple of days.

“Operating a Manual Bell at a school is stressful”, the amount of stress depends on the size of the school and the person incharge of the bell.

Can you imagine a Manual Bell button, you press the button and the bell rings, then the school changes class, a simple task.    Now you are told to press the button 12-15 times per day, and told it’s easy.    But you weren’t told you have to press the button 12-15 times per day for a year.    Actually for as long you are employed there.    You quickly find you cannot leave the office when it is near the time to ring the bell.

A month goes past, it’s a little painful keeping the Bell on time, it’s OK, no one said anything.

Three months go past, the teachers start getting agitated when the bells are late for the start of their classes. They bring it up in the Weekly Staff meetings. You now think you need to please the teachers. Subconsciously you start thinking ringing the bell on time is very important, you don’t want to upset the teachers and put in a more consous effort, because you’ll get the blame. You like working with your colleagues. You find being tied to the office to ring the bell is like prison, but you battle on not complaining, becuase it is a simple task.

Six months goes on, you have a bad day, there was a big run of couriers arriving, new software in the computer, a child was very sick and the parent needed contacting, you miss a bell completely. The teachers go nuts, and think you are an idiot,  “how hard is it press a simple little button anyway”. You feel bad for letting them down, and get stomach cramps and try to block it out of your mind. You battle on, it’s only a simple Bell Button.

The really bad thing is, this keeps going on because the people have got use to it so much they think this is just how it is. They lose site of the long term issue happening right infront of their eyes.

Having a Manual Bell at a school is like eating high cholesterol food, it’s a silent killer. It creates unnecessary stress on the Office staff and Teachers and the running of the school.

School Bells need to be automated for the sake of the Office Ladies Sanity.

The Best School Bell System I’ve found is a BellMinder, most highly recommended, it costs a little more but is well worth it. You can find one at http://www.bellminder.com

Mar022010

The BellMonitor Kid

Alot of friends tell me they used to be the Bell Monitor kid, and they liked skipping class, and they felt really special with there friends.

What school staff also tell me is if the Bell Monitor student was away sick, in swinning class or in physical education class, then the bell ringging duty would be completley missed. It was upto the staff again to monitor the Bell, and jump into action when the bell didn’t ring.

What is more stressful.

1/ Having a Bell Monitor student operate the Bell?

2/ Having the School Staff operate the Bell ringging.

It’s #1, because there is two tasks plus an unknown. Monitoring the Time and Bell Monitor. The Bell Monitor arriving is an unknown.

The least stressful option is to have an Automatic Bell. You would not believe the great comments I get after the Bell is automated. If this was analysed scientifically, after an event there was happiness, therefore there is less stress.

Mar022010

Choosing a good Bell Ringer child or Bell Monitor

Here’s a tip for choosing a School Bell Monitor kid.  From listening to a school recently, before they got a School Bell System, actually a BellMinder, they used a student to operate the electric bell.  As with most other schools this was terribly unreliable, by being late and the office staff still had to look after the Bell Monitor kid, so what is the advantage or benifit of a Bell Monitor Kid?.  The staff hate the mundane duty, and the kid takes away the task. Only if you get a good one!!

What made a difference was when they chose an autistic child to be Bell Monitor. The child was precise to the second at operating that bell and never missed a bell. It was bliss and even dreamy they told me. Untill he left school.

Jan162010

Automatic Bell

Automatic School Bell

Another issue I’ve found is Boarding Schools, school bell rings, they have so many different schedules. Apart from the normal day time schedule, they need schedules for the evenings and weekends. What makes things even more challenging for a School Bell Timer is the added combination of Summer and Winter schedules.  This would make a minimum of 20 Schedules not counting Exams, Parent evenings, sports days etc.

Dec012009

Mechanical School Bell

Mechanical School Bell

Someone made lights turn on and off with a mechanical timer, then someone else thought, I can make it operate the School Bells. This is how it started. There has been many variations of this timer since about the mid 50′s using a mechanical clock using cams to trigger a micro switch. I remember in college the deputy principle had the job of looking after the  school bells. It was a mechanical clock timer, I remember him altering it every tuesday for assembly day because it was different timetable to the other days. If each days timetable was different it would be a chore setting it for each day. He would have need to revert it back the next day.  He was the only one that knew how to adjust it. It had a set ring duration and had a setting for every 5 minutes. You needed good eyesight to see where to slide in the pin, because it was a 24 hour cycle on the dial.

Dec012009

Electric School Bells

Electric School Bells

What a great invention by Joseph Henry (the father of inductance), they are so good and simple plus use very little power. There was an electric bell at Oxford University that rang for over 150 years. This would suggest electric bells are very reliable. Electric Bells for schools come in various sizes and voltages AC and DC. If you are looking for an Electric Bell make sure you get a Bell rated for outdoors (i.e. being waterproof). When electric bells are used in schools it is very easy to press the button and all the bells ring at once. Then came the smart bell, i.e the no hands model.

Nov302009

Manual Brass Bell

Manual School Brass Bell

The Manual School Bell System has been around for years.    It has been traditionally used by schools because that was the way things were done.

The large swing bell in the middle of the school so that everyone could hear it, was great for a while.    It makes you wonder why it’s not used anymore.    Lets think about it a little.

There are about 10-12 bell rings per day for junior school per day.    The sound output of the bell is well over 100dB.   Staff and kids must have been getting sore ears being so close to the bell.    Wow, some senior schools which have up to 22 rings a day, it must have been a chore and damaged their hearing at the same time. Just think of the law suites that could arise from this.

The hand bell.    You can pick one up on Ebay for about $20.    It’s simple and it works.    But you need to walk around the school to make sure everyone heard the bell.    I guess it’s good exercise.    The funny thing is that I was the lucky kid that got to do it.    It was cool for the first few days,  getting out of class early, then it wasn’t so cool missing out on homework instructions. There must be a smarter way.