Students are given four tardy passes each grading period. They can use these to be excused if they come to class later than the rest. Rarely would an individual student come late. If they did, I expected that they brought a note from their previous teacher or surrendered a tardy pass. If the student repeatedly came late, I would have an individual discussion with them. They were responsible to fix the problem or schedule time to make up the time difference at lunch or after school.
Because we didn’t have lockers, the passing time was less critical also. As far as using the bathroom goes, we provide the students with five “potty passes” each trimester to use during class. We also tell them that if they need to use the restroom during transition time, they can check in with their next teacher and go without spending one of their passes.
The freedom from bells also gave us more flexibility in instructional time. Occasionally one teacher would contact then next to ask if they could have five more minutes of instructional time. On assembly days, we didn’t have a school-wide schedule; we simply worked out passing time with our colleagues.
Mistletoe Elementary is a unique school in many other ways. In 2010 we were the second K–8 in history to be designated a School to Watch. We were re-designated with the award in 2013. Our API is 859 and when compared to similar schools we are rated a perfect 10. The absence of such a historical institution as bells makes me wonder what other elements of education could be changed for the better?