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Found: Your Hallway Wanderers! Back to Class with a Digital Hall Pass

Caitlin Kindred

August 22, 2023
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Every minute of learning time counts, which means that educators everywhere need efficient solutions to address the challenges of lost instructional time and students wandering the halls, not to mention all of the issues that arise as a result.

To help teachers get kids back in the classroom, and get back more learning time throughout the day, SmartPass is stepping up to the plate. With updates and upgrades to its student movement management platform, it's more true than ever that "not all those who wander are lost."  

A Structured System for Efficient Hall Pass Management

Monitoring hallway traffic is hard. No teacher or hall monitor can be in every place at every moment of the day. When I taught middle school, I knew my own kids’ schedules and could tell when my kids were out of class at the wrong time. But if I didn't know a student? All I could do was say, “Hey kiddo, where are you supposed to be? Okay great, let’s get there,” or “C’mon folks, let's get back to class.”  

And let’s not forget that kids are smart. Just because one restroom in the building is a hotspot today doesn’t mean that it will be tomorrow, especially if students find out that administrators are on to them. Whack-a-mole, amirite?

When students wander hallways, they miss valuable instructional time. But there are other problems that emerge:

  • Academic performance suffers as students lose valuable teaching time
  • Classroom disruptions increase when students are a little too free to roam 
  • Unsafe behavior intensifies while students meet up for vaping, vandalism, and more

SmartPass’ digital hall passes provide a structured system. Students request and receive hall passes—that teachers approve with 1 click—reducing unnecessary movements during class hours.

"We had no real way of figuring out where or why [students] were going, so it incredibly enhanced our ability to know where they were supposed to be. Just to know where students are or where they're headed rather than 'I'm going to so-and-so's class' when in fact they were going to go to the library instead."
—Roy Woodring, Teacher at Northwestern Middle School
SmartPass Digital Hall Pass; electronic hall pass; overtime pass
Overtime Passes

Should a student be out of class for longer than anticipated, school staff can take action to mitigate further issues.

  1. Overtime passes alert staff that a student should have returned. Appropriate conversations that happen immediately after the event can mitigate future issues. 
  2. Personalized hall pass settings for each student accommodate children with additional needs and those who need more restrictions. Pass limits can be set both for the day and for an amount of time on an individual basis and for an entire student body.
  3. Real-time monitoring of student movements empowers administrators to address potential issues promptly. School leaders can create Encounter Prevention groups that effectively put a stop to select students coordinating times to be out of class together.

Consistent policies around student movement reduce attendance issues, disruptions, and unsafe behaviors. Clear expectations help school culture by instilling a sense of fairness and meaningful and visible support. As a result, schools see their culture shift toward student accountability and positive learning space.

“The big thing for me, the unexpected—I saw all the benefits—but the unexpected part was that culture shift... It's been working very well, very well for us.”
—Michael Hermann, Educational Technology Coach at Pennsbury Middle School

My former students any time they walked past my door… 🤦

Enhanced Control & Maintained Autonomy

Just like it’s hard to manage hallways, it’s harrrrrrrd to get teachers on board with any new policies, especially ones that change the way they manage their classrooms. I encourage all school leaders to be mindful of this fact as they enact sweeping policy changes. 

That said, buy-in IS possible, especially when there’s evidence to back up that the new policy is working to solve a problem that directly impacts teachers and staff.

SmartPass Digital Hall Pass; electronic hall pass; student summary reports, SmartPass Analytics
Student Summary Reports from SmartPass Analytics

SmartPass Analytics generates comprehensive reports on student movement patterns, providing valuable data for school administrators to analyze and optimize supervision. With data from consistent staff users, administrators can prove that SmartPass works to keep kids in classrooms.

The reports even provide granular data about time out of class to use in conversations with families about academic performance.

“We had a parent come in and that parent was really struggling to understand why their child was struggling. But being able to pull that report and show the parent that how missing a lot of class time is having an impact on the student's learning made a big difference in our conversation and how we can work together to help their student be more successful in the year.”

—Raúl Gastón, Principal at Jefferson Middle School

What’s more, because no school is exactly the same, SmartPass is fully customizable. Schools are able to enforce specific hall pass rules that suit their unique requirements. Further customization happens at the teacher level with features like

  • Closest Restrooms, Suggested Rooms, and No Fly Time, which can be set according to each teacher’s location and classroom policies. No more OMGoodness-where-have-you-been… your bathroom is down *this* hall… please just take a seat
  • Teacher status and preferences, permitting teachers to set their availability in SmartPass, thereby opening and closing their rooms at times that work best for them because these papers won’t grade themselves. 
  • Pass approvals mean that teachers who want to let students go to the bathroom without approvals can do so; they can also require that students get their teacher’s approval before scheduling a pass to meet.

Seamless Implementation & Data Insights 

As I’m writing this, schools in my area are gearing up for back-to-school. So while schools look quiet on the outside (and the traffic patterns surrounding campus are mercifully easy to navigate), they are a veritable beehive inside.

  • Administrators are hard at work finalizing student schedules, communicating with, um, persistent parents, and arranging professional development activities for their teachers. 
  • School and district technology leaders and coaches are doing their best to ensure that all of the tech is up-to-snuff by installing hardware, software, and everything in between. 

To put it bluntly, no one has any “spare” time to dedicate to complex and time-consuming projects. Technology coaches, in particular, often discover hiccups in the system during this time of year, when it’d be nice if things could just work, please

Thankfully, this is one of many areas where SmartPass shines. SmartPass offers seamless integration with hundreds of existing Student Information Systems (SIS), including PowerSchool, ClassLink, Clever, Blackbaud, Infinite Campus, and more, making the implementation process straightforward and efficient. This easy integration makes SmartPass scalable for district-wide implementation, promoting consistency and standardization across all schools. 

District and school tech coaches can also rest assured that SmartPass’ user interface is easy for both students and teachers to use, resulting in fewer “my computer isn’t working” calls to the tech office and even fewer eye-rolls during a training session.

Me, a 13-year veteran of middle school teaching, during “mandatory fun” PD.

"It was so simple for my students and teachers to get up and running. We've implemented a lot of new technology, and this had to be the easiest by far."

—Sarah Ford, Assistant Principal at a Texas Public School District

Let’s Review

  • Teachers control their own rooms and preserve their autonomy in the classroom.  
  • School administrators enjoy a structured system for efficient hallway management and get valuable data insights
  • School and district instructional technology leaders benefit from seamless implementation and ease of use 

And students? With SmartPass' latest updates and upgrades to their electronic hall passes, the challenges of student hallway wandering and loss of instructional time are being effectively addressed. By embracing these advancements, schools can maximize instructional time and create safer, more productive learning environments.

See how SmartPass can meet your school’s specific needs by booking a 30-minute demo with our team. It’ll be your best step yet toward smarter movement and better outcomes.

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