Do you say no to restroom request?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by annar, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. annar

    annar New Member

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    Nov 2, 2019

    I started teaching at a new school this year and it is school policy not to let 4th-6th graders use the restroom during class. They get 2 breaks a day and can go before, after school, at lunch and recess. Depending on the class there may be up to 3 hours between visits. My class has almost 3 hours after lunch to dismissal so they often have to go bad by dismissal. We give them two emergency passes per semester and if they use them that is it. We were told to be firm and just say no and if they use their pass, tell them that once they use them up they will not be allowed to go. I have students that have already used their passes so I tell them no. I made an exception for one student because she had stomach issues. We are also told to deny request to the nurse the first time they ask unless they visibly sick or have special needs. I had whining, crying and begging the first few weeks, but no accidents or complaints from parents. They are pretty strict with the younger grades too, but not like the older kids.

    I have to admit that it is nice not having several students go everyday, but wonder if this policy is harmful to them. My department head says it's good discipline for them.

    So do you think the policy is too strict and do you ever deny request for the bathroom?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
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  3. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    I think the policy is harmful to kids. I worked in a school like that years ago. I found a way around it. If someone has to go to the bathroom, they are not learning anything. Some kids will abuse it, but you'll figure out soon enough who they are. I do think the policy is too strict. On a daily basis, I would not deny bathroom requests. For the kids who just wanted to get out of the room, I have asked, " Can you wait until we are done with ______? " Usually they say, "Yes." Then sometimes they even forget to ask afterwards.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Nov 2, 2019

    I deny them unless there is a medical note on file. Even then we track usage because some kids use their medical notes to do things other than actually use the restroom, and we need documentation to prove it.

    We have 6th-8th graders, and they have 60 minute classes. There is ample time to go to the bathroom between classes because there is only one grade level in the hall at a time, and they are in pods by hallway. They don’t travel far.

    They get time after breakfast, before dismissal, before/after lunch, and between each class to go.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 2, 2019

    If I'm in the middle of a lesson or if it's close to a natural break, I'll ask if they can wait for a few minutes. If they say that they can't, or if it's during independent work time, I'll let them go one at a time. I'm not comfortable with denying these requests.
     
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  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 2, 2019

    I have never denied restroom breaks, especially for elementary age students. You learn very quickly who the privilege abusers are and those students I deal with privately, quietly.

    I have found that shortly after lunch is when most students have the most urgency to visit the restroom. They aren't learning anything if they are so stressed about needing to go.

    Again, as I have said in many threads, this is not a hill I wish to die on.
     
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  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Nov 2, 2019

    I generally ask kids to wait if I am in a situation that warrants waiting, but otherwise I just let kids go (one at a time).

    I roll my eyes at these inane bathroom policies. Yes, I get that kids need to be in class to learn, but some administrators and teachers seem obsessed with bathrooms.

    I've said it before, but sometimes a walk down to the technically unneeded bathroom calms a kid more than any brain break or fidget will.

    I have one student with autism who I've noticed asks to go when he is getting stressed and frustrated. Fine by be.
     
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  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Three hours without a bathroom break is too long. It isn't healthy to go that long without being able to use the restroom. (I know we teachers do it all the time, but these are children.)
     
  9. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    It is not healthy for teachers to wait either. I had a dr tell me that teachers get UTI's more often than your average person. Don't know if it was his experience or true...
     
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  10. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    I did deny a child a trip to the bathroom once during my first year of teaching (15 years ago). Child didn't have an accident (thank God), but was visibly upset when she left the class. The parent came to school and cursed me out, and the principal said to never do that again. He was a very supportive principal, but he was not happy with me. I let them go as much as they ask. But, crazily, they don't really take advantage of it. I'm a parent now, and I get it. You better let my child go to the bathroom. Period. I'm also much older now and sometimes have to go every hour myself. haha.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  11. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Sure do!
     
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  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Yes, we do it, but not willingly and not without griping about it. We shouldn't have to wait an inordinate amount of time, because if you miss one of those "allowed" slots for a variety of reasons, it is longer than three hours, and that's just wrong.

    So . . Yes to using breaks that are not in the middle of instructional time. Yes to noting the frequent flyers, especially if their names show up as being somewhere other than where they were authorized to go. Yes to tracking those who seem to have to go on a route that sends them past certain rooms that are out of the way, indicating that there is a social aspect to the need. So I 1. ask for natural breaks, 2. keep track of students who could be abusing the privilege, and 3. keep my ears open if other teachers make comments about students who create disturbances in other classrooms as they meander to their appointed trip to the bathroom.

    Students who fall into the last two categories will be made aware that I have documentation of them creating disturbances. I tell them that in a conversation with another staff member in attendance, which tends to be a wake-up call that now at least two staff members will be paying extra attention to their comings and goings. After that, I will be very careful to make sure that they can only go during breaks in instructional time, and I will make sure that they see me write down their name and the time they leave the room and the time they return to the room. It is a silent warning that I will know their transit time, and can verify it if requested by admin. Then I let them go to the bathroom.

    I've written before that girls in middle school can be caught unaware about bleeding through tampons or pads during their periods, and I will not die on the mountain of who can and can not go to the bathroom. My records show admin that I have taken great care to make sure that the breaks are for the reason stated and do not create undue risk to the school. Since I am not able to read students minds, I would hope that checking off all of these boxes is me showing students that while it is important to receive appropriate instruction, I am going to show trust until their behavior indicates that they are not worthy of my trust. If that day arrives that they have abused my trust, it will be time to have a meeting with admin, other staff members with pertinent information to share, and probably the parents, and a different plan will need to be laid out to rectify the situation.

    If the ultimate decision made by admin is that this student can't be trusted yet to act with maturity, then admin will hand down that decision.
     
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  13. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Nov 3, 2019

    I think 3 hours between breaks is too long, especially after lunch. I would schedule a bathroom break about an hour after lunch.
     
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  14. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Unfortunately, there's not much one can do when the school disallows restroom privileges. I can't help thinking, however, how historically, restricting relief has been a form of torture. Teaching students proper classroom decorum, which includes only leaving for an actual need and returning promptly, is more efficient and certainly more respectful. School needs to be an enjoyable place of learning.
     
  15. annar

    annar New Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far. It's amazing how the mindset about this varies from one school to the next. At the last school I taught at letting students go to the restroom wasn't an issue though the official district policy was only for emergencies. Interesting enough, I went though this as a child in the 1st grade for about a month. The principal banned all passing during class due to students writing curse words on the walls. We got 3 breaks a day and back then school was only 6 or so hours, but it was still uncomfortable waiting 1.5 to 2 hours at times, but we were only 6 or 7. Older kids can certainly wait longer, but 3 hours does seem like too long with only 2 passes a semester.

    Unfortunately I can't just add a scheduled restroom break as this would have to be approved. I'm going to talk with our principal and say that the 3 hours is too long and is causing students great discomfort. I agree, after lunch is when students need to go the most. I thought about just letting them go more often, but I don't want the head or the principal to find out I'm not following the policy. They seem to be of the mindset that the students are old enough to wait and must being asking just to goof off. One reason for the policy is vandalize to the restrooms in the past. With few students going they can better pinpoint who is doing it.
     
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  16. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Nov 3, 2019

    Damn right. I would raise hell if one of my kids couldn't go to the bathroom when they needed to.
     
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  17. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    Nov 3, 2019

    I teach HS, but I virtually always let students use the restroom when they ask. I do tell them that, if they know they need to go when they get to class, please go before class starts rather than waiting until the bell and then asking to go. Our passing periods are short and there is no way they can get to class on time AND use the RR if they are coming from a class across the school.

    We're humans; we all have to go to the bathroom. I don't agree with not allowing this as a rule. If we are in the middle of a lesson or it's like 5 minutes to the bell, I will sometimes ask if it's an absolute emergency or could they wait until the bell in 5 minutes. If they say it's an emergency, I let them go, no questions asked. I know I can't concentrate well if I have to go to the bathroom. I think I am also more sympathetic to it because I have stomach issues that sometimes cause me to use the bathroom frequently. I am not abusing it; I just sometimes have to go more than once in an hour or two. It happens. Female students may have just realized they got their period and don't want an embarrassing accident to happen. Maybe they drank a lot at lunch. Maybe they have a nervous stomach about something. We have no idea why they need to go, even if they had the opportunity and went at lunch or whatever.

    If a student is taking awhile, I will send a same-sex student to check on them in the RR. If I stick my head out and see them texting in the hallway or something instead, then they will earn consequences for misusing a hall pass. If they want to ask to go when they don't have to during work time, well, then they end up doing more of the work on their own time than during class, so it evens out in the long run.

    I just think that when we're in college, we can get up and leave class to use the bathroom whenever we need to. At MOST jobs, adults just go to the bathroom when they have to (and I wish teaching was that way as well).
     
  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I had a similar experience my first year of teaching. Again, a school that was very weird about bathrooms. So, I denied a student's request (not my student, just another student during a rotations time) to use the bathroom.

    After school, her mom called me and screamed her head off at me. Turned out the child had major kidney issues. True, no doctor's note had been submitted to the school, but in the mom's defense, she didn't think bathroom use would be such a crime.

    To add to that thought, I think it's sad that we have reached a time where one has to get a doctor's note in order to use the bathroom at school. The discipline goal is just stupid.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Or they could pay 2 people a part time aid wage, which would mean no benefits, and have them patrol the halls and check on the bathrooms. It would have the effect of truly finding any culprits, and also add a warm body to be grabbed in case the teacher is the one who can't wait any longer. I have worked where teachers take their prep seated with computer access in the halls, which effectively keeps students from wandering the halls. Let me interject that teachers who have the hall prep are rotated, so usually once a week or every two weeks. Takes the pressure off of the classroom teacher who is not available to go looking for those students who seem to get lost from point A to point B.
     
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  20. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Nov 4, 2019

    It's not only middle school girls we need to be cognizant of. Half of my fifth grade girls last year were of age.

    I think it's rather silly of us to act as though bathroom breaks pose such a risk to achievement. My lessons aren't progressing that fast! Haha. I let students go at will - one at a time - and tell them repeat offenders will be sent to the nurse with the assumption they're ill. No problems. Don't overthink this, guys. It's really low on the totem pole of problems.
     

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