Change in policy not communicated to teachers...Sigh.

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Caesar753, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 22, 2010

    It has always been the policy at our school that passes are at the discretion of the teacher. Since students are our responsibility during our class, we can determine whether they are allowed to leave the room for whatever reason.

    My policy since I have worked at this school has been that students aren't permitted to leave except in case of emergency. I expect students to handle personal business, including restroom use, during personal time: during passing periods, during lunch, and before and after school. I have always communicated this policy to students.

    Today a student asked to use the bathroom at the beginning of class during a quiz. I said no, she could go after class. The student didn't say anything else.

    After school the student's mom called me and was extremely upset. She told me that it was an emergency and that I should have let her daughter use the bathroom. I explained my policy and explained that the student never told me it was an emergency, in which case I would have let her go. Mom kept interrupting me and yelling at me and demanded a conference. I told her the procedure for setting up a conference (which is done through the office).

    While I understand Mom's anger, I do have my policy in place for a reason. Some students behave inappropriately in the hallways and bathrooms when they are unsupervised. This student in particular has a history of inappropriate classroom behaviors, and if I can't trust her to behave appropriately under my supervision then I don't feel like I can trust her to behave appropriately without it. I'm not trying to be mean. I'm trying to keep my students safe and out of trouble.

    When I told my supervisor about the situation to give her a heads up, my supervisor flat out told me that she won't support me on this, that I should allow all female students to use the bathroom whenever they ask. This is in direct contrast to what we have always been told, which is to keep students in our room and under our supervision whenever possible.

    So now I have to have this conference with Mom and either a counselor or an administrator, and I'm not going to be backed up. I'm going to look like an idiot at best, a complete b---- at worst.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 22, 2010

    Wow! I would think that your supervisor should have told you about this policy if it was something that they plan to uphold. I think that teachers are being forced to allow students to leave to appease the parents...
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 22, 2010

    I think all the teachers at your school should do the following:

    1. Inform all students that from now on, all female students can leave to use the restroom whenever they wish, no questions asked.
    2. Continue with the policy that male students will have to wait.
    3. Strictly follow this policy.
    4. Sit back and watch what happens.
     
  5. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS SpEd Para! BASE room aide! RTI Facilitator!

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    Nov 22, 2010

    I've sometimes used versions of:

    1 - stand at the door and remind students to use the restroom before they enter

    2 - allow student to use the restroom in exchange for lunch detention
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I will never tell a kid that he or she cannot use the bathroom.

    I will make it an unpleasant choice if necessary-- as in "You need to make up the time after school" or even "You can use the bathroom in the dean's office; come back with a pass."

    But I will never tell a kid "No." Some kids simply aren't comfortable admitting they have a bathroom emergency.
     
  7. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Nov 23, 2010


    Are male students allowed to go to the bathroom whenever they want? It seems that the rule is female-specific, which could cause some issues for the school later on.

    When I was teaching at the high school level, students always left the classroom "to go to the bathroom." A lot of the girls came back with about 50 snacks in their purses from snack machines (which, in turn, they tried to secretly distribute to other students in class even though snacks were not allowed). Bathroom visits were also an opportunity to use cell phones.

    Also, at the university level where I currently teach, we had a problem last year with students cheating during the final exam by going to the restroom. Students put a textbook in the restroom. Near the end of the final exam, students would get up and go to the restroom, review the parts of the exam that concerned them in the textbook, and go back and finish the test. Another TF discovered the textbook after the fact, and no one was caught.

    My policy at the HS level is to allow each student a certain number of restroom visits per grading period. I always tell students that if they have any physiological concerns, they must tell me so that I can accommodate them.
     
  8. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I teach K and we have our own bathrooms, so I am not in the same situation Caesar. I will say that another teacher in the building has problems with a first grader, and had to limit his bathroom use. When that didn't work, still problems, the student now needs to use the teachers bathroom with a teacher present.
     
  9. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Nov 23, 2010

    Sorry this has happened to you. It is never fun to find that you are out on the limb alone. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Girls can always go to the restroom seems to be a policy that will backfire. Restrooms have been used for cheating ever since I can remember. (Even when I was in school, paper towels would be written on and stashed for the mid test review.) Since most kids have phones, google, cameras etc, a trip to the restroom can be very profitable.

    For future reference, is the school's policy that students may leave class to go to the restroom without any limit concerning time and they are excused from all classwork during their absence? Is it the school's policy that the teacher is only to supervise and be accountable for the students who remain in the room? Is it the school's policy that attendance is taken at the beginning of class and the remainder of the class is not taken in to account? These are the annoying questions I would want clarified for my own sake. It sounds to me that your admin does not have a policy and is making it up as they respond to Angry Mommy and Daddy. Policies should be in place BEFORE things arise. :hugs: to you in support.
     
  10. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 23, 2010

    Joyful has nailed it.
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I only taught elem and middle grades, but I wouldn't ever deny a student the right to use the restroom. In this case, though, the student should have told you it was urgent. And, more importantly, if the school policy is to let them leave class on demand, then the admin should be there with you in the interview, and should apologize to the mom for not making the policy known. You shouldn't have to bear the wrath of the parent.
     
  12. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2010

    If I have a student who makes a habit of leaving the room to go to the bathroom we mark down each trip in their planner. That way their parents can see how many times they are leaving the room. I also give them the choice to give up 5 minutes of recess time for a bathroom trip. Usually, though, if they are not a problem child, or it really looks like they have to go, I let them. Most don't give me any issues.
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Nov 23, 2010

    That's frustrating that this wasn't communicated to you. Honestly, I think your policy needs to go. Students don't have time in their passing period to go to the bathroom. Let's treat our students with some civility here if they need to use the bathroom once or twice a week, that's fine. If it turns into abuse you can deal with it. Would it be fair if your principal told you you could not use the bathroom during faculty meetings?

    I also never say no to students who need to go the bathroom. If students begin to abuse their privileges we will talk after class. Also if you deny bathroom access to an entire class the teachers after them are going to suffer when half the class needs to use the bathroom.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I understand that some people don't agree with my policy.

    I'm not trying to be barbaric. Students have 5 minutes between classes plus a 30 minute lunch. Those are the same times that I'm expected to use the bathroom. I can get things taken care of in that amount of time and I have to walk across campus to the main office to the bathrooms. I don't think it's an unreasonable request of students to do the same. Besides that, our class periods are less than one hour long.

    Regardless of how I feel, I think that the policy is going to have to go. I'll just have to let bathroom requests be a free-for-all, where everyone can go whenever they want. If I'm not going to be supported by admin, then I really have no other option.
     
  15. worrywart

    worrywart Companion

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    Nov 23, 2010

    You know, I try to treat my students the way that I want my child to be treated. Plus, I do know that sometimes kids just want some privacy in the bathroom. As long as they are not abusers of the priveledge, I let them go.

    I don't think that you will have a free for all...
     
  16. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Nov 23, 2010

    I think it is wrong to allow the girls to go to the RR any time they want and not to allow the boys. We all know that they just can't have those kids of issues all month long. Our students have a planner with a sign-out sheet in the back. It must be signed by a teacher any time they ask to leave the classroom. A quick glance will let you know those students who abuse the privilege.
     
  17. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Nov 23, 2010

    Can you do a pass system? My biology teacher freshman year of high school gave us 4 red passes at the beginning of the semester. They were good for 5 minutes out of class, no questions asked... so if you needed a restroom break, or you were late, or you need to get your homework out of your locker, or whatever it was, you brought the pass up and turned it in fro 5 minutes of time out of class. We got a 2nd set of passes for 2nd semester, although they were cumulative. I think he gave us bonus points at the end of the year if we had them left over. It was up to our discretion when we needed to use them, but were there for emergencies.

    That might be a way to compromise your policy...
     
  18. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Nov 23, 2010

    Regardless of whether you agree with the policy, telling a teacher that she's on her own is a crappy way to deal with colleagues.

    How about, "I don't agree with you, but I'd be happy to help figure out a way to make this parent happy and keep the girl from using the restroom in order to flee class."
     
  19. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I teach 4 grade. That's a totally different animal than high school. I think high schoolers should be able to take care of their business between classes. I agree the the policy "change" sucked. I'm now with a principal that backs everything I do, and I can tell you it is such an amazing feeling to have that support. Good luck!

     
  20. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Nov 23, 2010

    That's a foolish policy that is asking for trouble. If a female asks to use the restroom right in the middle of lecture or instruction on a new topic you're supposed to let them miss that??????

    Better yet, you're supposed to let them go to the restroom during a test/quiz? Don't let the state catch you doing that during a state issued test.


    And for the best zinger of ALL.....


    <drum roll please>


    Two of our female students got caught doing something they shouldn't in the restroom today. One texted the other to meet her during class. They met up in the restroom when they asked to go to the bathroom (they were in separate classes.) A teacher on her planning walked in on them. I won't go into graphic details, but they are gay and they are dating each other (I'll leave the rest to your imagination.)
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Nov 23, 2010

    And, Muttling, that is exactly why I think policies like Ceaser's is a good one...too many students use the bathroom as an excuse to get out of class, use their phones, or to meet someone at a prearranged time. If a student has to go to the bathroom, I will certainly let them go, but 1)not during a test and 2)if they seem to be habitual about going to the bathroom.
     
  22. Simba

    Simba Comrade

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    I don't have an answer here. I feel your frustrations.

    I teach high school and our kids are texting one another to meet in the bathroom. They are then snorting ADHD meds and making drug deals during that time.

    If I tell them they can't use the bathroom...I'm in trouble...If I let them use the bathroom...I'm contributing to the sale of drugs etc. Our school can't find a happy medium.

    Don't get me started on the cell phones. I'm so ready for my Turkey Day break!!

    I think you should be supported somehow and someway.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Caesar, have a marble covered notebook and have them sign out and back in every single time they go. YOU note the times.

    If someone is abusing the bathroom time, it will be very easy to document.
     
  24. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    I think that's a good policy. I like the idea of incorporating locker visits into the situations that would warrant a pass. It puts students in charge of managing their time out of the classroom, and I think that's appropriate for the high school level.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think the problem there is that every kid gets 20 minutes to roam the halls if they can manage to get to the bathroom aside from class time.

    Realistically, the kids ADHD meds in the bathroom are probably less concerned with bonus points than we might hope.
     
  26. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    I'm assuming that using more than the allotted 4 passes would result in some kind of penalty. Maybe detention?

    Also, I like your idea of documenting bathroom visits in a notebook. Maybe the little passes could serve as documentation (the teacher signs them when the student leaves and records the time, and then the teacher keeps the pass when the student returns).
     
  27. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Our 6th grade (oldest grade at my school) all have bathroom clip boards hanging outside the room. The kids have to sign out and back in. That way they know when they are out of the room, and if something happens in the bathroom, they know the times the kids are out of the room. The principal asked that they be hanging in the hall so that if she can walk by and check up on any stragglers.
     
  28. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Caesar, I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I would be just as frustrated as you.

    I teach middle school and my students are not allowed to use the bathroom or get a drink during instruction time. If they want to go before I get started or during the last 10 minutes while they're working on homework, that's fine. It's too much of a distraction to have them up walking around when I'm trying to teach.

    Plus, at least at this age, they just want to go roam the halls. Quite a few have even told me that.
     
  29. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Nov 23, 2010

    If you're worried about them abusing it, maybe you can try my policy...I let them use the bathroom, but only one person at a time. I tell them at the beginning of the year, it's only five minutes, and only one person at a time. I don't restrict it, and I sign their agendas. If they are abusing it (wanting to leave several times per week) i take them aside and ask them to try and restrict themselves. It's been fairly effective. Plus, it changes the focus from you to the other students...it's not your fault they can't go tot he bathroom, it's the girl who didn't come back for 15 minutes.

    If a parent ever had a problem with that, I would have no problem defending my decision (that I'm responsible for them and I can't keep track of having multiple kids out of the room).

    Good luck, and hold your ground in the conference, I think you just have to defend yourself from the standpoint of student safety/responsibility. But, I do think it's difficult to expect all students to try and use the bathroom between periods (my school has exactly 10 stalls for boys in the entire school), for 500 boys...
     
  30. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    I think that one of the most frustrating things for us as teachers is the lack of communication between the administration and the faculty. This is something that comes up every year on our self reviews. Some years are better than others. I think the administration just seems to think that we "know" what is going on and they just don't think to tell us.
     

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