Bathroom Breaks for Teachers

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

  1. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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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 Enthusiast

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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 Enthusiast

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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 Aficionado

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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 Aficionado

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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 Aficionado

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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 Aficionado

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

    bella84 Aficionado

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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 Aficionado

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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 Aficionado

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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 Maven

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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

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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 Enthusiast

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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 Connoisseur

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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 Groupie

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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

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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 Aficionado

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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.
     
  22. CherryOak

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    You're certainly not the only one! I drink less in the morning when I sub. Dehydration is a tricky enemy. Is there a grade that goes to specials when you'd likely need to go? Any friends in those grades? Ask around and hopefully you'll find someone with a similar concern. I've heard of paras checking on pregnant teachers on a regular basis.
     
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  23. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    The specials teachers have their last five minutes of plan time right at a good transition time for me (a time when I could easily sneak out and have someone else watch the kids). I'm considering asking the one who is closest to my classroom to stop by on the regular. I'm not really close with her, but I could certainly work on that.
     
  24. Geologygirl

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    This became a union issue at our district so now we have mandated 10 min passing periods on all but minimum days to accomadate teachers who need to go. So 90 mins teaching then 10 min break
     
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  25. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The only thing I truly disliked about being a classroom teacher was not being able to use the restroom whenever I needed to. I had to methodically time my liquid intake in order to avoid needing to run to the bathroom during class.
     
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  26. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I do one of two things. Either I coordinate a time with the teacher across the hall, and we both take a break right after each other, or I take the whole class to the bathroom and go when they do. Our teacher bathroom is right next to the student bathroom, so it's easy to pop in.
     
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  27. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    That was actually my original plan - Take the whole class on a bathroom break, with one other class, and then the other teacher and I would take turns going. However, the time we chose was the same time as six other classes. 3/4 of the classes in our building transition at the exact same time, so apparently it was the same time that everyone wanted to take a break. And we only have three bathrooms in the whole building. Since I dislike whole class bathroom breaks anyway (such a waste of time!), I decided not to deal with that mess in the hallway. I still let my kids use the restroom during that time, but we do a brain break in the classroom while a few kids go at a time. If I could get another staff member to regularly pop into my room during that time, that would be ideal. It would still mean that I'd be waiting 2.5 hours for a break and then 1.5 for another break... but that's much better than waiting 4 hours 10 min for the first and only break!

    I think I'm going to talk to one of the teachers next door and see if we can work out an every day plan... If that doesn't work, then I'll go to one of the principals and ask for support from outside the grade-level. This is just causing me too much anxiety and unpleasant physical side effects.
     
  28. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I totally understand where you are coming from, but I also know many people who don't have a problem holding it for that long, which baffles me. To this day I still remember the fact that my best friend used to never use the school bathrooms when we were in HS because she thought they were "gross"- she thought it was no big deal to just wait until she got home. With travel time that was about 8 hours without using the restroom at all. I, on the other hand, needed to go several times during the school day. I also taught summer school where I was in the classroom for 5 hours with no break, and had to make sure I had absolutely no liquids to make it through. All of the the other teachers were drinking coffee in the morning AND carrying huge water bottles around...maybe your teammates are like this?

    I think these are your best options:

    1. Explain to your next door teammate exactly the details that you've said here...about the anxiety, the impact on your health, etc. I think that hearing that any reasonable person would want to help out. Ask her if there is a regular time that would work best for her. If she truly doesn't need a bathroom break, see if there is some other small way you could help her out instead- maybe make some of her copies?

    2. Find a friend in the building that has a prep time during your morning, and ask them to stop by your room for a few minutes. You can do the same thing for them during your prep time in the afternoon.

    3. Find a friendly para in your building that would be willing to stop by your room for 2 minutes on the way to their next task- I know several in my building that would agree to something like this.

    4. Explain the situation to your admin and ask if someone from the office can stop by your room in the morning. You could even phrase it as, "My other option would be to take a whole class bathroom break, but I'd really hate to waste all of that instructional time." That way it's on your admin's shoulders if they tell you to take the whole class bathroom break instead.

    5. I would not ask the specials teacher to give up 5 minutes of her prep every day unless you can do something for her in return. Even though I'm sympathetic to the situation, I'd be annoyed at that request, especially being sensitive to the fact that many think non-classroom teachers have "less work" to do (even if you don't think that, it would probably come off that way since this is such a common perception). 5 minutes every day is 25 minutes of lost prep time weekly, which is quite the chunk of time when you put it together, so I would make sure you're willing/able to do something for her that would be the equivalent of the 25 minutes weekly.
     
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  29. WarriorPrncss

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    What if you found a colleague wanted/needed a few minutes each day for a RR break? You could step in for each other at a set time-- that way you aren't calling in the middle of a lesson or disrupting their class since it'd be a planned break.
     
  30. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I guess some people have large or magical bladders... I can't imagine going the entire day without using the restroom! I've done it before, but it was always on a day that I didn't drink hardly a drop - not so good for your health.

    I think you have some good ideas that I'll have to try. I do want to clarify, however, that the reason I said I'd ask the specials teacher is because we lost a grade-level in our building last year. As such, our specials teachers now have a lot of extra time in their schedules. They are supposed to be using that extra time to provide individual support to students who need it, as well as taking on additional duties. So, classroom teachers get 95 min of lunch and plan time per day, with two of those plan time days each week being taken up by a planning and PLC meeting. On the contrary, specials teachers get 315 min of plan/lunch/duty time per day and NO regular meetings during the week. Granted, some of their time is actually be used to help students or supervise recess and lunch, but they have A LOT more student-free time than classroom teachers do. I honestly think that my principal would probably go directly to the specials teachers to have them provide me coverage anyway, if I went to him first. That's the reason I said I'd ask the specials teacher closest to me. She already has a lot more plan time than I do, and the specials teachers have been directed by admin to find ways to use that extra time to provide support to others around the building. It's still 25 minutes of her time, you're right, and I'd want to make that up to her, but I think it'd be more reasonable for her to do it than it would for another classroom teacher who also has to make it to those meetings during limited plan times throughout the week.

    All that said, I think I'll go with your first idea before trying anything else. I've already mentioned some of my concerns to the teacher next door, so it wouldn't be adding on a whole lot more embarrassment to just ask her for a scheduled daily time.
     
  31. Obadiah

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    I recall a workshop leader telling the story of a person complaining that teachers have the easiest job in the world, babysit a bunch of kids all day and have all the holidays and summers off. The leader asked the person, "On your job, what do you do when you need to use the restroom." The person replied, "That's a silly question. I just go." The leader responded, "Teachers can't just leave to use the restroom."

    On a more serious note, if there are any changes in your restroom occurrences, it's highly advisable to check with your PCP as soon as possible. This can be a sign of bladder cancer which, if caught early, is readily treated, usually with immunotherapy. It could also be a symptom of interstitial cystitis, which can be treated with diet. [In proofreading my post, I'm concerned I might be sounding like a know-it-all, which isn't my intent. After my lengthy ordeal with cancer and the lasting side effects (although in remission), I wouldn't wish it on anyone]. I would advise never withholding drinking water for lengthy periods nor skipping breakfast; (a quick note on water, some people react to tap water and need filtered or cautiously chosen bottled water). I would also advise daily doses of decaffeinated green tea; (note: decaffeinated drinks still contain a limited amount of caffeine). Green tea has been shown to possibly benefit the bladder and prevent many forms of cancer. Overall, water and nutrition are essential for cancer prevention and brain functioning; frankly, asking a teacher to avoid drinking water or using a restroom is the same as saying to a teacher, "We're trying to shorten your life or make you very sick, and we're trying to limit the function of your brain in the classroom, with the extended possibility of obtaining dementia in later years."
     
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  32. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I just got my schedule for this year, and I will once again be pushing to just under 4 hours. Our students only get one minute to switch classes, so no help there. My aides will help if I get them, but since they are our subs, it is very common for no aide to be available. Since these are SPED students, there is no locking the door and leaving them in the hall. It isn't that another teacher wouldn't help, but when aides aren't available, they can't leave their class for the same reason I can't leave mine. I think I will discuss this with the P tomorrow.
     
  33. otterpop

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    How do they have only one minute? Is your school very small? That's such a little bit of time!
     
  34. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Yes, very small, totally SPED. They have only a few steps between classes. If given more time, they just create chaos in the halls and go where they don't belong. It is harder on the the teachers than the kids!
     
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  35. TeacherNY

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    I wouldn't get any bathroom breaks (we don't even get prep or lunch time) if it weren't for my teaching assistants.I can leave them in charge and run to the restroom pretty much whenever I need to between any period. Our periods are only 30 minutes long so there's usually never a problem.
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Most days I go from 7:30 AM until 1 PM without a break; some days I don't get a break at all because on those days I have classes starting at 1. Most of the time I can manage, thanks to my dad who constantly took us on looooong road trips and only stopped to fill up the gas tank, lol. If it becomes urgent, I ask the person closest to me to keep an eye on my kids for a minute while I run to the bathroom.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  37. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2017

    its almost like you were trained for this.
     
    bella84 and ms.irene like this.
  38. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 6, 2017

    I know, right? It's like some weird butterfly effect or something. Except that it affects only me and involves pee.
     
    bella84 and Backroads like this.
  39. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 6, 2017

    :rofl:
     
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  40. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2017

    That's truly amazing. Do you drink anything before school or during that time? I can't fathom being able to wait that long unless I just don't drink anything or only sip on very little over a long period of time.
     
  41. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Sep 6, 2017

    As a classroom teacher the SPED room was next door, so three teachers and a handful of aides. Most days I'd ask someone to pop over for a minute

    Now as a sub, I'm dying. Sometimes I have to go 4 hours. I'm pregnant. I've considered buying Depends. They were giving out free samples at Costco and I took some!!!
    I'm usually at one school, so I've asked a teacher that has a student teacher if one of them can check on me once in a while
     
    bella84 likes this.

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