The Chimp Alarm Technique –
One bane of teachers and administrators everywhere is the tardy scholar, the ambling scholar, the “get there when I get there” scholar still languishing in the hallway after the proper time has passed. It’s not a good thing for teachers to start their classes with annoyance, having yelled, “Let’s go! Don’t be late!” over and over or for scholars to feel badgered and resentful. Especially in a building with no interim bells or signals, the nebulous time frame can be difficult for scholars and maddening for teachers.
Here is one solution that has been tested and proven over the course of several years. It is a system that puts the concept of Passing Time as time passing into the minds of your scholars. It takes the onus of being late off the teacher’s ability to motivate the scholars and onto the scholars themselves. It is the Chimp Alarm.
The Chimp Alarm system can be used over a Public Address system for an entire school, or by using speakers in a single hallway or wing. It works this way:
At the beginning of a passing time, the first Chimp Alarm announcement plays, announcing that the scholars have three minutes to get to their next class. Immediately after which a song plays with a three minute duration. The song can be anything that the school/teacher chooses, from popular music to classical excerpts, to novelty songs, educational tunes, or scholar/teacher made music (sing-a-longs are especially effective). Once the song ends, the second Chimp Alarm announcement plays, warning the scholars that their time is about to run out. The third Chimp Alarm sounds ten second after the last announcement completes and the “wrath” of the Chimp Alarm unleashes. It’s an obnoxious klaxon, but with enough inherent humor that it’s not anxiety-spurring.
The teacher/administrator in charge of the playlist stops that alarm (around fifteen seconds) and classes begin. The playlist would compile this way:
1. Hallway Announcement – Please Proceed
2. (Three Minute Song [approx.])
3. Hallway Announcement – Time Running Out
4. Time is Up – Chimp Alarm
5. Hallway Announcement – Please Proceed
6. (Three Minute Song [approx.])
7. Hallway Announcement – Time Running Out
8. Time is Up – Chimp Alarm
9. (and so on)
If the teacher/administrator chooses to use a CD, about fifteen songs will fit in this arrangement. Of course, if the teacher/administrator uses an iTunes playlist, the number of songs has no limit.
Run consistently and without fail, The Chimp Alarm system really does work. The scholars become familiar with the songs and can anticipate when their time is running out. Their knowledge of that last chorus, or the clever bridge, or that one chord progression toward the end of the song gives them the spur to get their lockers closed and themselves into class.
Additionally, the presence of positive music in the hallways during their social time makes their passing time more pleasant and purposeful. One might anticipate that such a system might prove to be a distraction that would keep scholars in the hallways, but my colleagues and I have not found this to be the case over the five years that we’ve been using the Chimp Alarm. Quite the opposite, in fact; when given their own system to know when the time is running out, the scholars want to beat the Chimp Alarm. They scramble to make it to class before the alarm sounds.
With this download, the user has license to use the three sound files in whatever way she/he chooses (ex. She/he may splice them into Garageband files with selected material to streamline the process).
The announcements and warnings are spoken first in English, then repeated immediately in Spanish.
File #1: “Alert! You have three minutes to proceed to your next class, starting now.” (Spanish translation)
File #2: “Alert! The Chimp Alarm is about to sound. (Spanish translation) Please close your lockers, gather your items, and proceed to your next class. (Spanish translation) You have ten seconds to comply.” (Spanish translation)
File #3: Your time is up. (Spanish translation) Chimp Alarm for thirty seconds.
Also included: A Chimp Alarm (PDF) sign entitled, Why the Music?, explaining the system to alleviate the well-meaning concerns of the uninitiated.
Obtain the Chimp Alarm today and put your scholars' time-management in their own ears.