Bathroom Breaks for Teachers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bella84, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    I recognize that there was a thread on this topic a few months back (http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/index.php?threads/how-do-teachers-take-bathroom-breaks.200374/), but I want to raise the question again, slightly differently. It's an oddly personal topic to discuss with strangers on the internet, but I feel alone in my concern at my school.

    I have a 4 hour 10 min period from when students begin arriving in the morning until lunch. Although I have two different classes of students during that time, I'm supervising students the entire time. Every morning, on my drive to work, I start having anxiety about needing to use the bathroom during that block of time and being unable to do so. Sure, I can always ask a teacher next door - and I do, when it's a true emergency. However, it's hard to ask the same two people to step into my room on a daily basis, particularly when they are in the middle of teaching a whole group lesson, as our lessons aren't always occurring at exactly the same times. Since I don't want to bother them every single day, I've started to just not drink so much water nor have a smoothie for breakfast (I usually drink A LOT more liquid than the average person, and I've been pretty healthy because of it.).

    Ever since I made that change to fewer liquids, I can tell a physical difference in my body. I feel dehydrated, exhausted, and, well, let's just say yucky in my tummy - much more than usual. I know the problem is that I'm not drinking enough water. But, if I do drink enough water, I'm going to have to use the bathroom during that block of time... It's not going to be every once in awhile; it's going to be every single day, sometimes twice during that block of time but usually only once (I guess I know my body well). My problem is that, when I've broached the topic with my colleagues to see if we can come up with a solution that works for everyone or to find out what others do, I seem to be the only person who is concerned about it (Am I really the only person who has to use the bathroom this often on a regular basis??). If I choose to properly hydrate myself, I know that I will need someone scheduled to give me a break every single day at some point during that block of time. Asking a teacher next door to step in every single day just doesn't seem like the right thing to do... or does it? No one ever asks me to step in for them that often, so I just feel like either something is wrong with my body or I'm making a bad choice by trying to stay hydrated and healthy.

    I guess I'm looking for advice on what to do... This is impacting my daily morning anxiety to a level that doesn't seem healthy nor appropriate... nor fair. Do I talk to my doctor? Talk to my principal? Just ask the teacher next door every single day? I mean, I love my school, but it just doesn't seem right to expect human beings to dehydrate themselves or "hold it" for that long. The longest I've ever had to wait at any other school was three hours, and I thought that was pushing it. Please help. :(
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    Talk to the principal. While the longest set of time in our classrooms is 1.5 hours (maybe 2 hours now, with swapping recess and lunch times), our principal would make sure that we had some way of making sure we could go to the bathroom as necessary and stayed healthy, whether it meant organizing a teacher watching the other classroom, sending an IA/para over to watch for a minute, or just a "give me a call if you need to go" kind of plan.

    If that doesn't work, and you have a union, I would go to them and bring up the concerns. Ideally, you should have a "break" every 2-ish hours, but regardless, you should be able to drink (water - ha) within reason without having to worry.
     
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  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I'd have a problem with waiting that long for a break too. We have about 3 hours with kids and that's hard for me also. Like you, I try not to drink much so that it won't be a problem, and usually it's fine ... But goodness, there should be a better solution.

    I guess maybe your doctor could write a note saying that drinking water and using the restroom is necessary? That seems extreme though. Maybe you could talk to your principal first. Perhaps there's an aide who walks by your classroom at a certain time each day who could check in to see if you need a break.
     
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  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    And if you're having the worry/problem, there are probably other teachers who also have the same worry/problem, but are also pretty quiet about it. Don't be afraid of bringing it up!
     
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  6. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    Part of me wonders if OSHA wouldn't have some guideline on this.
     
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  7. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    This year, every Tuesday, I will also have this problem. No breaks from 7:15-11:30! I'm going to HAVE to grab the teacher from next door. Since you will have this daily, I would bring it up with your P or AP.
     
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  8. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    That's almost exactly the same schedule I have... only every single day. Honestly, I think I could get through it easier if it were in the afternoon, but I drink so much water when I first wake up, plus eat/drink breakfast. I gave up coffee and tea long ago.

    I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in being unable to "hold it" for four plus hours.
     
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  9. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    Here is what I can find:
    https://www.oshaeducationcenter.com/articles/restroom-breaks.aspx

    Legally, I don't think there are any violations. If I need to go and ask to go, someone will let me go. The hard part is that I know it's a daily thing, and it's going to get really annoying to someone in the office - and embarrassing to me - if I'm just randomly calling every single day. I'd much prefer knowing that I have someone coming to my room at the same time every single day. Then that other person and I can both be mentally prepared for it... and hopefully my body can adjust to whatever time that is. I just can't seem to get my body to adjust to waiting for 4+ hours in the morning.
     
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  10. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    I also wonder if the lady at the askamanger blog has any insight.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    I know... It's just such an awkward conversation to have to have... It seems like something that should be so obvious to an administrator when they are creating a master schedule. But I guess not.

    I agree that asking for a doctor's note seems extreme... Oddly, however, I feel like a doctor's note would alleviate some of the embarrassment for me. I mean, it's embarrassing either way, I guess, but a doctor's note would suggest that I have some "condition" that makes me different from my colleagues who are capable of holding it for four hours rather than just making me feel like a weirdo who has no explanation for why I can't hold it when others can.
     
  12. TrademarkTer

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    This makes me glad I teach high school! I go to the bathroom A LOT because I drink a lot of fluids as well. We have a 9 period day, but only teach for 5 of those periods so there are 4 periods in the day where we can easily go (one of the 4 periods may be a hall duty or cafeteria duty, but we can run to the bathroom during that if needed). The most periods in a row we can contractually teach without a break is 3 (3 periods would be approximately 2 hours), and my schedule never seems to have 3 in a row. (i.e. last year I taught periods 23569, this year I teach 34689 etc). And if worse comes to worse, I can run during the 5 min passing time or ask a colleague.
    That said, during summer school I am by myself for 5 hours straight some days. I told my supervisor straight that I would need a bathroom break around the halfway point there, and she had no problem coming down for a few minutes, or having an AP come down.
    What I would do if I were you is just tell a colleague or aide that you have a medical issue where you need to go to have a regular time to go to the bathroom (being dehydrated is affecting your health so a "medical issue" isn't a total lie), and if possible, could they come at X time to relieve you. To keep it cordial, maybe you can also offer them a time when you can watch their class if applicable.
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    Reading this makes me so grateful for our 9:30 recess and my repulsion at having kids in the classroom.
     
  14. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    Reading all of your comments makes me feel a bit better because I know I'm not some weirdo... I just don't understand why no one else at my school seems to think this is an issue. Maybe they are suffering in silence, too... I don't know. Anyway, thanks for helping to confirm that my body is relatively normal!
     
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  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    I wouldn't think anyone would want you to risk your health due to a lack of bathroom breaks. Talk to the principal or your colleagues to get some kind of plan in place. Although a doctor's note would not be my first plan of attack, I wouldn't discount that if needed.

    We have 55 minute classes with 3 minutes between each class, so I can use the restroom during those class breaks most of the time. However, I have to use the student bathrooms because the two faculty restrooms are too far from my classroom.

    My issue has been during state testing. We typically are in the classroom from 7:45 until 11:00 without a break. That isn't usually an issue for me, but I have microscopic colitis. I was having a flare in symptoms last year during testing, and when I had to use the bathroom, I had to go right then. I did get a doctor's note for that, and they had to provide someone in my classroom within a minute or two. Even that was pushing it.

    They did, however, work with me to make accommodations. All I had to do was ask.
     
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  16. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Companion

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    The only nice thing about our state testing (PARCC) is we were told each room is required to have an examiner and a proctor (so two teachers per room). This is nice as it makes it easy for one to run to the bathroom, or to escort a student to the bathroom.
     
  17. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    Probably doesn't come to the forefront for all administrators, since they're thinking about a large variety of factors when coming up with the schedule. I suppose that's one big benefit to our "shared leadership" school model where there are all sorts of leadership teams that she meets with to have discussions, the scheduling being one part of it. The idea of nixing our first recess came up, and it would've created a 3.5-4 hour block, which many brought up the bathroom issue at.
     
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  18. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    I would not drink less water for this reason. I would definitely talk to your principal about what you can do and stay firm that it is necessary for your health. Hopefully, there is an aide nearby that can cover you for a few minutes between classes. I would get a doctor's note if your principal does not make appropriate arrangements.

    This is one thing that was really hard for me as a sub. I need to drink a lot of water during the day or I don't feel good at all--especially when I'm talking a lot. So I need to use the bathroom in the morning and afternoon. As a sub, this was always really hard to juggle different schedules every day!
     
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  19. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Companion

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    I can imagine this being especially hard for a sub, not knowing when you will be free. I can plan and know, I am going to go during period 4 every day this school year, but a sub doesn't get the same luxury.
     
  20. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    [QUOTE="bella84, .
    • anxiety about needing to use the bathroom during that block of time and being unable to do so.
    • I made that change to fewer liquids,
    • I'm looking for advice on what to do...
    • This is impacting my daily morning anxiety to a level .
    • Do I talk to my doctor? Talk to my principal?
    • Just ask the teacher next door every single day?. :([/QUOTE]
    Hello Bella, I have the SAME PROBLEM, and I've handled it a number of ways. Firstly, I greatly reduced liquid intake in the morning, and the liquid I did intake, I took EARLY, FIRST THING in the morning so that my need for elimination came much earlier.

    I also MADE IT A POINT of going to the restroom--need to or not--JUST BEFORE the first class started. If class started at 8am, at 7:50am I'm in the restroom. :whistle:

    If necessary, I would rush students out of the class as the end of first period, and tell incoming students to wait in the hall a few minutes until I returned.
    I don't know how old your kids are, but some responsible students can be left in the class for a moment while you go.

    And lastly, there are exercises you can do to strengthen those muscles, which is likely to be what the doctor will recommend. I don't want to go in to detail here, but look it up on the internet, I think you will find yourself in much better condition after a week or two. I did.
    Good luck
    PS--(see if the principal is willing to move your class closer to the restroom.)
     
  21. bella84

    bella84 Fanatic

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    Thanks... I appreciate your advice, but most of it won't work for me. I've already tried limiting my liquid intake, which, as I explained, has led to a different set of problems. I do get up very early (about three hours before school begins) and start drinking my liquids early, but that hasn't helped to stop the issue of needing to use the restroom, only the limiting the number of times I need to use the restroom. I do also use the restroom just before the students begin arriving (if they're coming at 7:15, I'm in there at 7:12), but my body doesn't function on the school schedule, so sometimes I have to go again an hour or two later. Leaving my students alone isn't an option. I teach elementary. There are no class periods for me to go in between, and the students are not at all responsible or mature enough to be left alone. My classroom is just about as close to the staff bathroom as a regular classroom can get. Only specialists' [small] classrooms are closer. As for the exercises, I can see how strengthening muscles may prevent related issues, but I don't think that's going to prevent my bladder from feeling full.

    Again, I'm glad I'm not the only one who understands this problem. It is disappointing that any of us have to experience it, though.
     

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