Seniors and Bathroom Policies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ms.irene, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 23, 2015

    This is my first year teaching a traditional Senior English class. I have had seniors in the past in my French and ELD classes, and I have taught seniors online, but it's my first pure class of seniors. I was warned by many at my school that our seniors have a reputation for being entitled and challenging. So far, it's going really well, overall, but I have some questions about seniors and bathroom policies.

    I have a bathroom policy which is: I give out cards which are good for four passes, and if unused they are each worth 5 points of extra credit. I used these last year in my combined level classes with no issues. The seniors (some of them) seemed offended that I would offer them something that is so "beneath them." They are mostly over it, with one exception. What do you think -- is this system too babyish for seniors?

    There's just one student who continues to question me on this policy. He is a smart but troubled kid -- I know he had three concussions in a row in his freshman year (football) and he shows signs of brain injury (confusion, frustration). He also lives with his aunt & uncle due to family issues, but that's all I know. He continues to complain about my policies long after everyone else seems over it. When he brings it up, I tell him to see me after class if he needs to discuss this issue. Yesterday, he said he needed to go, and when I asked for his pass, he refused to look for it. He said it was an emergency and that we was going to go on the floor if he didn't go right then. I let him go, but instantly regretted it and felt like I shouldn't have given in. How would you have responded?

    I really feel like this one student is trying to challenge my authority and is affecting the attitude of others -- how do I nip it in the bud without making a bigger deal out of it?
     
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  3. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Sep 23, 2015

    Honestly, for me, this isn't a battle worth fighting for. I used to have a system very similar to yours and ended up scrapping it. I think there are legal issues with restricting bathroom breaks for students. The only time I don't allow bathroom breaks is the period immediately after lunch, unless it's an absolute emergency. I only allow one student at a time go.
    At my school, I don't know any other teacher in my department that enforces any bathroom policy, so I don't want to rock the boat per say. Students are required to sign out if they leave a classroom and sign back in (school policy - it's a legal issue), and if anyone abuses their bathroom privileges, then they have a conversation with me and/or are written up.
    Any student who asks me on a continuous basis to go will have a conversation with me which will end in no bathroom breaks for at least a week.
    The idea of extra credit is very appealing to the students, but we're not encouraged to give extra credit anyways, especially for frivolous things like that that don't have anything to do with their content mastery in my class and can end up inflating their grades (something the admins want to avoid).

    For the most part, students don't abuse the privilege. They know they're missing class time when they're gone and are responsible for anything they miss. Since it's not an issue I'm passionate about or make a big deal out of, they don't seem to take advantage of me. If there there are exceptions...
     
  4. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I just started doing bathroom passes this year. Got tired of wasting time and having discussions about bathrooms with people who are adults (or close to it in age).

    When I passed them out, I told them if they had a valid medical reason why they should have more passes, then please bring me a note from a parent or guardian. If they don't have their pass, they don't leave the class. In the event of an emergency, I will punch the pass after they return from the bathroom. But they don't leave without the pass under any circumstance. Kids are pretty smart about figuring out which teachers are serious about their policies and which ones aren't.

    When a kid makes a bluff, call them out on it. They will back down. They are expecting you to fold because most of our peers do.
     
  5. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Sep 23, 2015

    Extra credit for not having to go to the bathroom? How would we feel if our bosses gave us a bonus for never taking a bathroom break?

    I've always found that an honor system for the bathroom works well: one pass, students write their name and time on the board, and just go as long as I'm not teaching. If anybody abuses this, their classmates will get very angry, and I revoke that student's right to leave the room. This rarely happens.

    At my large school kids usually couldn't go between classes--they were too busy hiking across the building. If they did, they would be late for class and in trouble for that. There are lines for the bathrooms, especially girls, and a kid could use a large portion of their lunch waiting.

    The teachers I hated the most in school were the bathroom police teachers; it was so demeaning.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 23, 2015

    You tell the the kids that if they don't like the pass policy, how about there are no passes at all and no one is using the bathroom unless they have a medical condition? they can use it before or after class, and surely they can sit through an hour long class with no problem.
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Sep 23, 2015

    I also scrapped my pass system this year. I just told my students to be reasonable. If I notice a pattern for a particular student, I'll take him or her aside to check on why. My school already has a policy of no bathroom visits in the first or last ten minutes of the period.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Sep 23, 2015

    If a student asks me to use the bathroom, I let him/her go.

    I've been teaching for over a decade and only had a handful of students have abused it - those got a "I've noticed a pattern, what's the problem" question, and that seemed to be enough of a "warning."
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 24, 2015

    Thanks for all the input so far -- I never used to have a set policy and never wanted to, until the year I was teaching a reading intervention class and the issue got out of control. I don't want to be the "bathroom police" either, and I fell like perhaps it's not needed with this group of students. I guess my question now is, do I officially change the policy now, or stay the course at least for this semester? I don't want it to look like a kid can effectively bully me into changing my policies.
     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 24, 2015

    I really like this idea -- I could see this working. I could get one of those dollar store whiteboards for them to sign in/out. What do you use for a pass?
     
  11. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Sep 24, 2015

    We have school wide standardized plastic passes that are color coded according to part of the building.
     
  12. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Sep 24, 2015

    I don't think you did something wrong by letting him go, but I would have required him to find his pass when he returned or let him know that it was still counting as one of his passes.

    I use a similar system. Last year, I didn't want to argue with kids about passes and I felt like they should have the right to go to the bathroom whenever they needed to.

    This year, I changed my mind. I only get to use the bathroom at set times, so they can figure it out too.

    My students get 5 passes per semester to go to the bathroom, locker, or whatever place they think they need to go. Each pass is good for 5 minutes.

    We do have bathroom breaks built into our schedule. Students can use the bathroom before school (7:45), during break (10:15), and during lunch (12:45). School is out at 2:45.

    I keep track of the passes used; students don't have to turn anything in or get anything signed.

    If a student came to me and has already used the 5 passes, I would allow him to leave class 2 minutes early- that would give him enough time before the next class. If they say it's an emergency and they had a stomach ache and needed to go right away, I would still let them go. Twice last year I had to leave my own classes to use the bathroom and couldn't wait, so I get that it happens.

    If the student made a habit of it, I would call his parent, concerned about the student needing to miss class so often to be in the restroom and inquire as to whether there was a doctor's note.
     
  13. Moogeeg

    Moogeeg Companion

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    Sep 24, 2015

    I am only in my second year of teaching, but I have tried a new system this year. Last year, I pretty much allowed students to go whenever they requested, but I tried to limit passes during the first or last 15 minutes of class.

    Now, I have an extra-large bottle of hand sanitizer that serves as my pass (I saw this idea on Pinterest). Only one student may be out at one time (at this point, it has not been abused, and if it is an emergency and I trust the student, I will just send him or her). So far, it has seemed to work. I still discourage bathroom visits during the first or last 15 minutes, but encourage students to come see me before class if they are afraid they will be late due to using the bathroom and I won't mark them tardy.

    Since the pass is very obvious and sits on my desk, any abusers would be quickly found out.

    My school also has a rather long passing time, which seems to have really reduced the number of bathroom visits.
     
  14. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I get the sense that my students like the passes vs, "asking permission' to go the restroom. They can go without asking or announcing anything. They simply hand me their pass. No awkward conversations about anything for either teacher or student. I have had students tell me that they dislike that whole process themselves.
     
  15. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Sep 24, 2015

    I teach sophomores and seniors. I'll sometimes ask if they can wait until I'm done explaining directions but other than that I let them go. We only have three minutes between classes and the bathrooms are on the opposite end of the building from my room. They do have to fill out their agendas. Bathroom passes just aren't something I mess with.
     
  16. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Sep 27, 2015

    Never give out points for bathroom usage. You are basically saying that they are mastering the content of your class by not using their bathroom passes.

    That being said: let them go. My school's policy is that they must have a pass to leave the room for any reason. If they want water they need a pass. If they want to go to the vending machine they need a pass. If they want to use the restroom they need a pass. The point is that they need a pass and it must be their agenda (they have passes in it). If they lost it I say "tough luck" and they often find someone else's agenda to use.

    As simple as that. I only let 2 out of the room at a time, but will monitor their time (they have to write them in the agenda). I've never actually had an issue with a male and female leaving for an extended amount of time, but apparently it happens. If they're gone for more than 10 minutes it's skipping. They have to let me know they'll be gone for that long and I often say "No" because I want the student to be in class.


    There's a ton of micro-decisions that go into bathroom policies it's insane, but make a policy and stick to it. Mine is somewhat laissez faire, but not entirely. I haven't had any issues. When issues arise I bring down the boot which is usually just "You ain't leaving my room anymore".
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Sep 28, 2015

    Thanks again for all the input...there's a lot to consider, and it's this kind of stuff that I hate having to worry about! My majority-freshmen classes seem to like it the way it is and like having homework passes/extra credit. I look at it as bonus points for time spent in the classroom, not out in the halls. But I agree that it's not perfect. I might try canning it altogether for next year.

    Meanwhile, I don't have any kids who I feel like are "abusing" bathroom privileges -- the seniors seem to want and be able to handle a little more freedom. So my question now is, would you change your policy mid-semester or mid-year, or stick with it?
     
  18. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Sep 30, 2015

    Considering that it's only the bathroom policy then I don't see an issue changing it at any time you feel like it. They are high school students. Sure structure and consistency is important, but it's just bathroom policy.

    If you found that your grading system could be revamped I would wait until next year, but changing bathroom policy is whenever and whatever. I reserve the right to change food/drink, bathroom and seating policy as I see fit. My room's a mess? No more food or drink. Are people abusing the bathroom usage? They don't go anymore. Etc.

    Being in high school I think you can have an "honest conversation" with them. Just let them know that you've been noticing issues with the current bathroom policy and you want to change it. Maybe run the "extra points" to your next test and then end that (or whatever it is you want to change).
     

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