Bathroom Policy and Union Protection

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teacherman1, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 15, 2014

    Since we are on the subject of unions and their worth, I have to tell a little story about something that happened way back in 2004.

    2001 was a big year. Two things occurred that had a tremendous effect on schools and education in general - 9/11 and the signing of No Child Left Behind. Things changed drastically in the months and years following.

    In Providence, one of the first effects of NCLB was the decision to "re-capture instructional time to increase student performance" (To this day, I cringe when I even think about it).

    In our school, the first thing to go was the one 30 minute recess we had.

    The other thing that they started playing around with was bathroom time. Teachers were no longer allowed to take their classes to the bathroom as a group. We HAD TO send them out one-at-a-time or in small unaccompanied groups - even 1st and 2nd graders! Even the so-called "behavior problems"!

    Well, I was livid about the loss of recess and I saw MAJOR SAFETY ISSUES with having kids roaming the corridors unsupervised. So I decided to make my feelings known to our Principal.

    She did not like that....:naughty::naughty::naughty:

    She said this was not open to discussion. I was to follow the directives or be charged with insubordination.

    So I was forced to go to my Union Rep. I took the position that, especially in our post 9/11 times, having unaccompanied children roaming the halls and in the bathrooms alone was a SAFETY CONCERN, and if I were to be held LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE for their safety every minute of the day, then I wasn't going to let them leave the room without supervision.

    The principal called in the PTB from the main office and we had a meeting.So it was them against the lowly teacher and the Union Rep. The principal was allowed to state her case and what she accused me of (insubordination) and then I presented my side.

    The REP listened, and in the end he took the position that if the principal insisted on forcing teachers to let kids leave their classrooms then the principal and vice principal would have to accept liability for anything bad that might occur in the halls and bathrooms.

    You should have seen her face:mad:

    On the way out she pulled me aside and said, "You better watch out Mr. Round. I will be watching everything you do."

    And she did. And the battles began. And thank God I had the union to back me every step of the way.....
     
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  3. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Lol @ "post 9/11 times" and "children roaming the corridors."
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Yeah, I didn't understand the 9/11 reference either and my school is less than 20 minutes drive time from Ground Zero. Even in 'post Newtown', kids still use the restroom as 'nature calls', not at designated 'go now or forever hold your..' times. I'm glad for that. I did the line up thing when I student taught...it was a ridiculous waste of time.

    In my K-4 building kids in grades 1-4 have always gone to the restroom 'unaccompanied'...even in the private Catholic school where I taught previously.
    I'm a teacher, not a bathroom monitor.

    This would not be a hill I'd choose to die on.
     
  5. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    Kids going to the bathroom solo is nothing new or special pre or post 9/11. Wtf? Yes, even as early as first or second grade. Heck, at kindergarten they are sometimes allowed to go alone or with a buddy. They are supposed to learn independence. The school is supposed to provide a safe enough environment for kids to go use the restroom without an adult. If something happens to them, then it's on the school, not you. I think you are taking the "responsible for the children" a little too drastically. But congrats, you made an enemy in the admin over something very silly.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I much prefer group bathroom breaks.
     
  7. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 15, 2014


    Well, I'll tell you why it (and recess) was a a hill I chose to "die on.

    1. In our inner city school, we were constantly reminded that we were personally responsible for the children in our classroom from the moment they got onto school grounds until the moment they left.
    2. If a child misbehaved in the bathroom or halls, he was dragged back to the classroom, the door would open and the public questioning/berating would begin: "Mr. Round, do you know what your student was caught doing in the boys room?"
    In my head I would guess.... (from most common to least)
    *Yelling at the top of his lungs?
    *Fighting/wrestling?
    *Showing his privates to all present?
    *Spraying everyone with water?
    *Stuffing the toilet with toilet paper, paper towels or another child's shoe?
    *Looking under the stalls as another boy used the toilet?
    *Locking all the doors in the stalls and then crawling out.
    *Writing on the walls.
    *Peeing on the floor (or on another boy)?
    *Standing on the sink?
    *Hanging from the stall doors.
    *Throwing wads of toilet paper up onto the ceiling.
    *Hanging out the 2nd floor window.
    *Dropping things out of the 2nd floor window.

    When the infraction was finally disclosed I was usually told that "From now on this boy has lost all bathroom privileges. He can only go when an adult accompanies him. And I want you to call his mother".

    O.K.

    Now that only covers the actual use of the bathroom. Here's what used to happen in the halls: (again, most to least common)
    *Running like a bat out of hell
    *Screaming like a banshee
    *Going into kids lockers.
    *Taking walks to other parts of the building.

    And here's where it really gets good......
    *Walking out into our high-crime neighborhood and disappearing
    *Opening the doors to any Tom, Dick or Terrorist that happens to knock on the locked door in our supposedly secure school

    I'm sure I've forgotten some.....

    Teacherman

    PS Within a few months of implementation of the principal's policy we got a notice over the PA system saying:
    Principal: "May I have your attention please. From now until further notice, all teachers will accompany their classes to the bathrooms and will monitor their behavior while there."

    It seems that some of the older boys were trapping the young ones in the stalls, turning off all the lights and then beating them up - just for fun. They were also covering the bathrooms with graffiti and wet globs of toilet paper.
     
  8. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 15, 2014

    And although this never happened when I was there,
    it was always a possibility:http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Ki...Assault-in-Elementary-Bathroom-240150761.html

    Remember now, we teachers are personally responsible for each and every student in our care
    from the moment they enter the school building until the moment they leave (I'll save that for another post)

    note: My wife just reminded me that, in her inner-city school, there were Behavior Disorder High School students using the same bathrooms as 1st and 2nd graders. Luckily, there were no sexual assaults but there were "shakedowns" where the High Schoolers were locking the doors and robbing the younger kids of their lunch money and anything else of value they had.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 15, 2014

    I have witnessed this...as though the teacher gave the student permission to misbehave.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I like going as a class rather than as individuals because it ultimately takes less of my time then when the "floodgates open" and every child decides that the middle of math is a peachy time to go to the bathroom. I'd rather take five minutes after lunch and have everybody go, than deal with pairs of kids popping in and out every two minutes.

    Plus... yeah, I'm responsible for them at all times, so the less time they spend where I can't redirect them if need be, the better.
     
  11. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 15, 2014

    This happens at my school all the time with HS students, especially since all the bathrooms are on the first floor and they have to go downstairs.

    Last week a teacher on our floor let a 10th grader go to the bathroom and on the way back, he started horse-playing/wrestling with another student in the hallway and they knocked over a water-cooler. A hall monitor dragged each boy back to their class and apparently reamed out the teacher for letting the students' play around in the hallway.

    Same thing happens when we let students go to the bathroom and they wander the hallways cutting class. Always the teachers' fault. Yet, if you tell a 17-year old they can't go to the bathroom, they will get up and walk out anyway if they REALLY have to go.
     
  12. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I agree, GR3T,
    And, that's the ironic part of this whole thing. The Principal's effort to "re-capture instruction time" actually had just the opposite effect. I spent an inordinate amount of my class-time trying to figure out whose turn it was to go, who had already gone, and how long ago the last two (boy and girl) left.

    These 1st graders did not know how to wait for their turn, did not know how to sign out and certainly did not know how to tell time. Every system I tried failed. Instead of taking 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes after lunch I bet, if you added all the time lost dealing with these problems during instructional time, we spent more time on "BATHROOM" than MATH.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2014

    It does take some training in procedures, like anything. I got a cheapo digital watch at the dollar store so kids could copy the time on the sign out. I don't allow anyone to leave when I'm teaching...they can go at snack time or once they've gotten a good start on or done with independent work in addition to at lunch, recess and specials. No one abuses the plan. Students know to report any shenanigans (mostly wet toilet paper ball kind of stuff or locking stalls and crawling under if anything...both are still rare) some teachers have kids put the bottle of purelle on their desk when they sign out so it's easy to see who's out with a quick glance plus kids give it a pump when they return...

    In my school we have a 'steering committee' meeting once a month at which concerns and questions/requests are discussed by teachers and the P. If such a policy created a real problem, this would be the avenue to share it...not behind closed doors, after school in a confrontational way.:2cents:
     
  14. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I actually really can't stand whole class bathroom breaks, and I teach 1st. We are at a K-2 school, so there's not really a chance of much-older students bullying the little ones...they're all little. The bathroom is right across the hallway from my classroom, but there actually aren't any classrooms at my school that are too far from a student bathroom. I don't see that it takes a ton of time. I can remember who is in there. I let one girl and/or one boy go at a time. I really don't have any kids this who abuse the privilege since they aren't allowed to go with a friend. If I did, I would reevaluate, but I still wouldn't go whole class.
     
  15. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I think this serves as a good reminder that what's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander :) Whole-class bathroom breaks work best for me... they certainly aren't the best choice for everybody though.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I definitely agree with that. But as much as I can't stand whole class bathroom breaks, if my administrator mandated them, that wouldn't be a battle I would choose to fight.
     
  17. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'd fight it if I lost the ability to do a whole-class break. My class time is precious enough without implementing a change which would take away even more time. Especially when we share a hallway (and bathroom) with 15 other classes, including 5th graders, many of whom are considerably larger than any kiddos in my room.
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I find it ridiculous that Teacherman's administration has apparently lost control of their school in terms of discipline, and then tells the teachers that they are responsible for what happens when they send a child to the restroom.

    Bullying and vandalism in the common areas are the responsibility of the administration. They need to get their heads out of the dark, sunless nether-regions and do their jobs.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The incident occurred ten years ago...for me, that was three principals and one superintendent ago.
    Regardless of whether one thinks their admin is making bad decisions, there are proper channels and procedures to follow in voicing one's concerns.:2cents:
     
  20. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I didn't want to bore you with all the details, but those avenues had been pursued with no result. The policy was set.
     
  21. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    It wasn't a safe environment. Kids roamed with no supervision whatsoever.
     
  22. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    To think that any administration can have total "control in terms of discipline" is naieve, Sarge, no matter where you teach. But it's much, much worse in an inner city school.

    This particular elementary is in a horrible part of the city. Drug deals go on across from the playground, shootings occur regularly - usually, but not always, at night. Although the building was almost new, security was virtually non-existent. I was the only male in the building - even the custodial staff was all women. In the morning "parents" pushed themselves in with the kids and roamed the halls.

    There were no "hall monitors", no parent volunteers and the vice-principal was usually in her office - not walking the corridors to make sure things were going smoothly. There were no video cameras in the school corridors and no video camera at the main entrance. Even if there were, there was no security force to man them.

    And yes, on several occasions 1st and 2nd graders simply pushed the release on the side door and disappeared into the neighborhood.

    I saw on many occasions 1st and 2nd graders run over to a main or side door and open it for complete strangers. Often I was the only adult aware that someone else was in the building.

    There were at least three other entry doors with windows where a simple knock and a smile could get you into the door. The kids don't know - for the most part they are very trusting and eager to please at that age.

    And don't let me get started on our dismissal policy! That would take an entire thread all by itself.

    The whole school was a disaster waiting to happen and, as far as I know, nothing's changed.
     
  23. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    Your concerns are absolutely foreign to me. I worked at an inner city elementary school for several years and have subbed for two years at various elementary schools. Never have we had problems with sending kids to the bathroom individually. Most schools have bathrooms within their own hallway. If you want to monitor them and make sure they don't horseplay, send them one at a time and stand at the doorway. Kids that young tend to only need 2-3 minutes top to use the restroom. Even less since most of them dont' wash their hands. lol.

    If you're afraid of your administration coming down on you for "allowing" them to horseplay, then that's a pretty bad administration and overall work environment. It's the admin's job to keep the campus safe. Walking down the hall to use the restroom should not raise concerns for a child's safety. If you want to get technical about being "personally responsible" for each child, then you're going to grow white hair real soon. You CANNOT watch them every second of the day. Part of the purpose of school is to teach them personal responsibility and allow them room to grow. They need to learn how to use the restroom without an adult.
     
  24. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    4 days ago: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=9428031

    Last month: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/01...boy-left-school-undetected-walked-home-alone/

    A few months ago. This one died:http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/01...hool-door-open-before-avonte-oquendo-escaped/

    And another: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/brooklyn-school-lost-track-boy-mom-article-1.1518985

    This one wasn't in NY: http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...2FQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vVgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3082,1766792
     
  25. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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  26. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 17, 2014

    And again, Joe, if you saw what I saw you'd feel paranoid,too.
     
  27. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The point is that whether or not administration is responsible for providing a safe campus, there are several campuses that are not safe. Such as the four cited in the links he provided.
     
  28. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    I did, along with the host of other links you provided earlier (most of which goes on a tangent), and I'm still not feeling the least paranoid. It's akin to reading a host of stories about people dying in car crashes and feeling paranoid about driving. Statistically, it's very uncommon and when it does happen, you have very little control.

    Again, I'm not here to change your mind. I gave you my perspective and it's your choice to stress/battle over something like this. I find teaching to be stressful enough as it is. Good luck.
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Teacherman...you said you went thru all the proper channels before going in to your admin...if all the channels were sending the message that the admin was steadfast in their decision, did you really think your one on one was going to change the policy? Especially since from your own words you may have gone in with not the most 'finesse' (Well, I was livid ...So I decided to make my feelings known to our Principal)...Seems to me your union could have issued a statement to administration about this policy if it truly put members and kids at risk. (or maybe that was part of the channels?)

    Great that your union had your back...but it just seems from your posts that your actions were confrontational..(or at least perceived that way by administration?)...and as someone who's held executive positions in my association, I'll tell you it gets difficult sometimes to back up members who seem provocative...even if they think they have the best of intentions...which I'm sure you did.
     
  30. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Feb 17, 2014

    It's true that the argument is getting a bit circular here. However, my point was that the staff (and/or union) should not let the administration off the hook.

    The bottom line is that if the school so unsafe that a child cannot walk down the halls un-escorted, then the admin needs to take a long look in the mirror and start working to MAKE the school safe.

    I don't think this is impossible, even in an inner-city, low income school.

    Maybe time currently spent on test-prep should be re-purposed to train children not to open doors to strangers. Perhaps admins need to spend less time in the offices and more time in the halls. Possibly, teachers' "additional duties" need to be realigned to focus on things that result in school that is more safe and secure. And if admin says they don't have the money to install mechanical features like alarms and cameras, then it's their job to get very loud with the school board and the media in order to GET the money for those things.

    And finally, if school-wide discipline is so lax that children feel free to vandalize the restrooms, assault other students, and leave the school without permission, then those problems need to be addressed. And if admin claims they don't know what to do or how to do it, the research is out there as to what works and examples of successful schools abound.

    Moreover, it would be great if this stuff could be done BEFORE one of the incidents that Teacherman linked to happens.

    The mantra of the teachers, the union, and the parents needs to be that the school administrators have a job and they need to start doing it.
     
  31. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    This decision shows how out of touch some policy makers are with the process of learning. There is a big difference between allocated instructional minutes - the number of minutes mandated for, say, reading - and engaged minutes which are the actual minutes students are engaged in reading. The issue shouldn't be whether students are escorted or individual but, rather, how much engagement time is lost/gained with the procedure. If a teacher saves time by stopping whole class to use restroom like after recess then that would seem the effective procedure. A principal who considers her/himself an instructional leader should, therefore, open discussion-input with those charged with carrying out directives (teachers) to work towards procedures which minimize loss of engagement rate minutes versus a mandate which puts all the marbles in quantity while avoiding the real issue of quality.

    I think they learn this (threat) in principal school. It can make for a demoralizing work environment. There is no one in your school, teacherman1, who knows more about your students than you do. Most teachers do not want the final word. They just want to be allowed input in the decision process.

    I admire your walking the talk. While many whine and complain you went to bat for your kids, erring on the side of prevention and taking a hit in the chops. I may be off, but if I remember correctly the number one concern of parents polled regarding schools was "safety".
     
  32. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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