The mobile phone has made a formal entry into classrooms.
At Modern High School for Girls, it has replaced the school bell.
The Syed Amir Ali Avenue school rings the bell only once a day now when students are to come back to class from the lunch break.
Teachers time their classes on their mobile phones, which they carry to classrooms on “silent mode” and keep on the desk.
Teachers check the time on the phone to see if a period is over and make an exit.
Earlier, the school had different kinds of bells for different levels — junior, middle and senior school — because the duration of periods varied from class to class.
“The duration of a period would be 30 minutes, 40 minutes or an hour for senior classes. So, different kinds of bells would keep ringing throughout the day,” said Devi Kar, director of Modern High School for Girls.
Modern High, like most schools in the city, follows a staggered dispersal system for the different levels.
Different classes give over at different times to minimise traffic congestion around the schools.
Bells would be ringing through the day when it was time for students of different classes to go home.
“The staggering is more now because of increasing traffic and the heat,” said Kar.
Teachers know what is the last period of the day and they accordingly help the children out, said a school official.
The school had electronic bells and also a gong.
All of them have gone silent now.
“I had wanted this for a long time — that there would be no bells and we learn to follow a timetable on our own. We have achieved this. It’s already been a week with no bells and the school is much quieter,” said Kar.
The school was deliberating on the use of clocks but synchronising all of them could have been difficult.
An office staff member then came up with the idea of using mobile phones — a device that has become more handy in the two years of the pandemic.
Earlier, teachers, except in a few classes, had to leave this pocket device in the staff room before they entered their classes. That has changed now.
Only during the break, when the girls are out in the garden, the bell is rung to tell them to return to classrooms.
When the idea was first floated among teachers, there were apprehensions whether they would be able to maintain the routine without hearing the bell that their ears were so used to.
“The two years of the pandemic have made us more flexible and we have learnt to adapt and adopt. All of us seamlessly move from one class to another,” said Indrani Roy, vice-principal of Modern High and an English teacher for 31 years.
Earlier, even when the bell would ring, sometimes teachers would be engrossed in teaching or answering a student’s query, Roy said.
“That happened earlier, too, and happens now as well. When we see our colleague waiting, we do make a move,” she said.