Friday, April 27, 2007

Allowing Students To Use The Restroom During Class

I always start off the year telling students that I can't leave the classroom during class time, so neither can they. It's not too much to expect of them, given the following facts:

1. We have 5 minutes between 1st/2nd periods and 5th/6th periods, and 10 minutes between 2nd and 3rd periods. Lunch is between 4th and 5th, and school is over after 6th.

2. If 5 minutes isn't enough--if there's a line at the restroom, for example--check with me before the 1-minute bell and then go hit the bathroom. I won't mark you tardy.

Extreme emergencies? Sure. But no one has more than one extreme emergency a year. Sick? Just let me know quietly before class starts, and then you don't even need to ask--just get up and run out the door if you need to.

Expecting a student to be in class for 50-some minutes isn't unreasonable. I teach most of the period, and expect students to take advantage of my instruction.

I consider myself exceedingly reasonable on this subject. But could anyone be this unreasonable? Really?

Update, 5/1/07: Here's a little more detail, as well as the aftermath.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — School officials on Monday suspended a 14-year-old boy who said he had to urinate in a bottle after his science teacher refused to let him use the restroom. The teacher was being transferred to another school.

"I can't believe they don't believe me," student Michael Patterson said in
a telephone interview after he was given the five-day suspension. "I have no reason to lie. What I said happened, happened."


If the kid lied, why is the teacher being transferred? If the kid didn't lie--well, I'm not sure what to make of that. He should know not to pee in a bottle in class, even if told to do so.

Update #2, 5/4/07: And then there's this:


MAGNOLIA, Ohio (AP) -- A sixth-grader who was denied permission to use the restroom while taking a state achievement test this week had an accident in class, and a school administrator blamed an overzealous teacher.

The shame brought to the student, who had to urinate, was an unfortunate outcome of efforts to prevent cheating, said Sandy Valley Local Schools Superintendent David Janofa.

Update #3, 6/18/14:  I've modified my rules a bit in the years since I wrote this post.  Now my requirement is "not while I'm teaching".  Students can still check with me before the 1-minute bell and not be marked late to class.  Once I'm done with my direct instruction and they have time to work independently, I'm not going to stop a kid who says they need to use the restroom.

37 comments:

Polski3 said...

At tje junior high where I teach, we limit our students to two bathroom passes per six week grading period.

However, being one who has restroom issues at times, If a kid has used their passes and says they really need to go, I let 'em go. Years ago, one of my master teachers advised me that it was often the best policy not to question too much a students request to leave class to use the restroom, especially the girls.
For me, it has worked fine over the years, I cannot recall any student abusing this to get out of my class.

Chanman said...

I issue one pass per trimester. That is their one and only pass for any emergencies. If the students don't use it, they can turn it in at trimester's end for extra credit. Out of 180 students, I get maybe five students who actually end up using the bathroom pass. The rest want that extra credit. I do have some students ask to use the bathroom. When I ask them if they really have to go bad enough to give up the extra credit points, they usually end up deciding they can hold it.

It is one of the most successful classroom management tools I have ever implemented.

Tom said...

I would issue 5 per 18 week semester. They could use them at any point. I would have some students use them up in a week's time and be without for a LONG period of time. If I saw that a student was having an issue, I would allow them to use the restroom. The caveat was...they lost one of their uses for the second semester.

The beauty is, each teacher does it different. But I'm with you Darren, if they aren't in the classroom, they are missing out on valuable teaching time. And with my school's move to 7 periods this year...we were down to only 47 minutes. I needed all the time I could get.

Anonymous said...

I'm a high school teacher, and this "bathroom issue" is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not understand the "two passes a semester" rule at all, as if students could plan ahead: "Next Tuesday, during 4th hour, I think I'll pee…"

Frankly, I find it a small person indeed who actually takes the time to photocopy "semester bathroom passes" and then include the policy for their use on a syllabus. At my daughter's middle school, they even get extra credit at the end of the year for not using the passes! ("You didn't urinate all year! Good for you, Madison! You get an A!"). Good God, nonsense like this is replacing genuine content and rigor in the curriculum, and it's so silly. This is not "classroom management," it is petty control over children by insecure adults.

Using the facilities as one needs, seems to me, the ultimate expression of one's humanity and basic freedom. Controlling one's use of the facilities is the ultimate expression of…well, control over another's basic freedom.

I tell my students that they are far more aware of their own need to use the bathroom than I am, so they should go when they need to go, and hurry back. In 7 years they have never abused the "privilege."

Sorry, but if we treat them like animals, they will act like animals. And if we treat them like human beings…

Bogusia said...

Seriously, is this an issue? Let the kids go to the washroom if they want to! Treat them like humans, and they'll treat you with respect as well. I never make a big deal out of it, and never had had any problems.

Scott McCall said...

but....what happens if you have a student who has an emergency, and has another one later in the trimester?

i know an old friend of mine who has some infection problem, which caused her to go very often. Meaning she would need to go probably about 9 times in a given school day. She can't help this, so what happens if she uses your pass in an emergency, and then needs to go again? Would you force her to use a bottle?

Anonymous said...

Just let them go whenever they want. Their fault if they miss your instruction. Same with being late, in my opinion.

Bob said...

"Controlling one's use of the facilities is the ultimate expression of…well, control over another's basic freedom."

Well, Anon, if it's such an expression of freedom, why do we make students go all the way down the hall? Just let them do it in the room.

Sorry. That's not the way I see it. We're trying to teach students to be a part of society and some of that "learning" is that we have some standards to follow. These same students don't seem to have any emergencies when drinking a gallon of pop during a 2-hour movie. Why should they have an emergency during my 45-minute class in which time they know exactly when they will have an opportunity to go the restroom again?

Law and Order Teacher said...

Wow! I didn't know that going to the bathroom was an expression of freedom and humanity. No one has ever abused going to the bathroom? You must teach in a convent. In my school some students want to leave class to ...I don't know, text, talk on their phones, maybe even, visit with their buddies on a different lunch. Maybe I'm suspicious. I'm going to have to take a seminar on human rights, because I'm with the others in limiting "restroom" breaks.

Scott McCall said...

high school is suposed to prepare students for college....

...but wait....in college you can just walk out of the room and piss if need be, you dont ask for permission. so why do students have to do it in high school?

oh wait....high school is juvenal hall, but with teachers and books instead of guards and guns.

Coach Brown said...

Students write out a bathroom pass and go when they need to. In fact, I tell them to not even ask, just fill out the paper, and hand it to me, even if I'm talking, and then just go. My rules:

-Only one student at a time.
-If you are gone too long, I'll give you a cut.
-If you ever abuse it, you can't go.

I've rarely ever had problems. Of course, I have one class that has habitual bathroom users, and it does get annoying, but I don't think I can get away with not letting them go.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Bob" and "Law and Order teacher": You're bullies. You clearly don't like kids. Please get out of teaching.

Darren said...

Anonymous, you're an idiot. Please get out of--whatever it is you do.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Dear Anon,
I've given your well thought out post a lot of thought. After much soul searching I have decided to stay in teaching. While I respect your advice, I still think I have a lot to offer the kids. I know I am a bully, after all I used to be a cop and we know how those guys are. I will try to curb my impulse to lord my authority over my students. I think all impulses that humans are subject to should probably be given free rein. What about a little sex in the classroom. After all, that's a natural impulse too, isn't it?

ms-teacher said...

Overall, for me it depends upon "when" kids want to use the bathroom. For instance, my fifth period class is right after lunch. All year, my students have heard me say that I will not let them use the bathroom during fifth (unless it's an emergency) because they should do that during their 42 minute lunch period.

I do have some students who want to abuse the bathroom privilege and sometimes I give them a choice of five minutes of detention or using the bathroom. If they really need to go, they don't mind giving me that five minutes. If they don't need to, they often choose to stay in the classroom.

I find that if I make a big deal out of it, my students will make a big deal out of it. It really is all about picking your battles :)

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

We've had one week of no hallpasses by administrative decree. I've had one kid need to go, but she's had surgery this year and so there was no way I was going to say no. A medical condition is one thing-- going to the john to use their cell phones is another.

Otherwise, everybody's been dealing with it. These kids are almost adults, and they shouldn't be asking to go to the bathroom once every week or more on my time. If so, they need to start training up their bladders now.

Anonymous said...

"If so, they need to start training up their bladders now."

There is no way to train one's bladder if you don't mind me pointing out. I had a "small" bladder all throughout elementary and middle school and there was nothing I could do about it. Perhaps you all need to put yourself if the situation of the student.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if a child needs to go they need to go. My niece told me this morning she had a stomachache during 5th period and the teacher said she had used her pass this 6 weeks already. I was pissed. That is ridiculous. I can't imagine telling a kid or anyone really they can't go. I understand the problem child may abuse it and may need to be considered but not those that are typical good kids. Ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

My son is in middle school, and the vice principle is constantly going around to the teachers and telling them not to let the students use the washrooms.
My son told me the other day teacher said if you need to use the washroom then don't bother coming back to class go straight to the office.
Where are the human rights for these students if nature is calling? I think sometimes these teachers get a little carried away with their power over students.

Darren said...

There *must* be, somewhere, a reasonable median between not allowing students to use the restroom and having students leave class whenever they feel like it.

Anonymous said...

I am about sick and tired of looking at my 3 kids grades online and seeing POTTY PASS and no grade next to it. This is a pathetic thing to grade kids on. I think all kids should have a chance for extra credit not related to natural bodily functions they might have. Pathetic! I am going to continue to search for some sort of legal issue regarding this subject. As far as after lunch goes and they had plenty of time to use the restroom. What about food served in the lunchrooms! Ever heard of food poisoning? Nobody has control over that. I sure do not send my kids to school to be graded on the restroom use nor should my tax dollars be spent on teaching my kids to hold it in when they have to go!!! Again..PATHETIC!

Anonymous said...

I am a junior in high school...but I remember in 6th grade, i never had to use the bathroom in class, but I really had to go one day. My teacher did not let me and i was very upset because I really had to go. I started crying for 10 minutes because I thought I was going to pee on myself…So I just finally left and she gave me a suspension…I told my mom about it when I got home and she talked to her and the principle…

Anonymous said...

Who is the teacher to deny my son the right to go use the bathroom?
boss can not deny employers to use bathroom
prison officers can not deny inmates to use bathroom
principal can not deny teachers to use bathroom
therefore teachers should not
deny students to use bathroom.



so i told him if you need to go for a wee ask your teacher, and if she tells you no JUST WALK OUT THE CLASS AND GO TO THE TOILET and tell them DADDY said you can go to the loo when you need to.


i know some people will say , your child should wait until recess


what happen if is an emergency e.g. stomach ache or urges to pee?? , bodily function DON`T KNOW ABOUT time specially in a emergencies cases like diarrhea



You teacher , you can not deny my child the right to use the toilet if he has an emergency , what would happen if a student have an accident and wet pants or have a stomach ache in front of a whole class because the teacher denied a student to use bathroom ??
it would be anecdotal for the teacher but for the pupil will be a traumatic and humbling experience for the rest of his/her life and many
many classmates will talk about that during years and the pupil will be humiliated again (and sometimes in front of new people).




why some teachers deny pupils the use of bathroom? students ask for the toilet to avoid some lesson

they would take drugs in bathroom , they can suffered a heart attack along the way......

TEACHER'S EXCUSES

i think some teachers dont let students use the bathroom because want see them with his/her pants-wetted , some teacher have behaviour pedophile


so I recommend to all parents , tell you child that you should wait until recess if you can hold , ok i'm agree , but if you child has an emergency , JUST WALK AND GO ,
teacher is not nobody to deny your child to use the bathroom , message to all parents DON'T LET YOUR CHILD BE HUMILIATED BY A B------ TEACHER. OK?!!
OK.



i see here many teachers are proud of about that. You are lucky my kid isn't in your class , you would have a big problem with me;
but anyway some day you could have a problem with a violent father .


Defend your child against bad teachers. it is a duty !!

Bathroom is a right , not a privilege.

Brandon R. Farmer said...

This is exactly why my movement is quickly gaining momentum. I am advocating for change in the fundamental issues that cause problems like these dysfunctional restroom policies. Please check out my web site to learn more about the Restroom Laws Movement:

http://invertedsphere.com/restroom/

Thank you for your time,
Brandon R. Farmer

Anonymous said...

This makes me very mad because in your very first sentance you say, "I always start off the year telling students that I can't leave the classroom during class time." This is entirely wrong. According to the U.S. labor laws, employers must give their employees the freedom to go to the bathroom at any time. You can look it up if you want on Google. Just type in, "9CFR Toilet facilities.1910.141(c)(1)." This will prove that what you very first said is false.

Darren said...

You're partially correct, anonymous. I cannot leave the classroom *unattended*. I guess I could call the office, tell them I need to take a peepee, and they could send some other teacher (can't legally be a campus monitor or secretary or something) to supervise. Or, I can just wait until the class is over and go between classes.

Karina said...

Hey Darren, as much as I understand what you are trying to achieve, to be honest, in high school I despised teachers like you and I still believe that it is a ridiculous venture to prevent students from using the toilet during class. I was an athlete in high school and I drank more water than anyone I knew. I'd bring six bottles of water to school each day and most of them would be gone before the end of third period. Also, I was a female so I had period issues. Now although I respect the chance that you try to let kids go before the second bell rings, on a large campus some kids have to run to class just to avoid being late. Other times a kid might need to discuss a paper or a grade with another teacher and it prevents them from leaving class just on time. Unless your school has office hours like a college campus, sometimes that's the only time students get a chance to talk with their teachers. Now also for me personally, I found it rather difficult to focus in class when I was more focused on trying to hold my pee for 20 or 30 minutes. Oftentimes I would go between bells and despite going then, my bladder would fill up just five to ten minutes later and then I'd be stuck trying to play kegel gymnastics so I could hold my pee rather than thinking about what my teachers were actually saying during lecture. Also, linking bathroom time to grades is grossly unfair. I was a hardworking student and I hated it when teachers would mark me down just for going to the toilet. As I mentioned earlier, I am a female and so therefore I have a period. I always hated it when I would have to give an explanation to teachers, especially male teachers, that I would soil my pants (which sometimes would be white if it was my first day and I didn't know it was coming) if I wasn't allowed bathroom privileges. I had a horrendously heavy flow and on my first few days I can soil two regular tampons within an hour. I would have to carry an extra sweat shirt around to tie around my waist if my pants were dripping with blood. Also, when I didn't have an extra sweatshirt I'd have to go and get a spare pair of gym pants, which make it look like you've had a dress code violation even if that wasn't the case. One time I had a teacher just like you and when he said I couldn't go to bathroom I started using the grossest language possible to describe how blood was dripping out of my vagina. He let me go after that. You also have to consider kids that might actually have bathroom issues that have not yet been diagnosed. In conclusion, I think any, if not all of those are good reasons to just let your kids go when they need to. Now I can understand the concept of making students sign out, go one at a time, or put a time limit on their bathroom time (more than ten minutes usually means that they are screwing off) but I can never understand the concept of not letting them go at all.
Thank you

Darren said...

I don't let students leave during instruction. Once instruction's over, then they can go.

Anonymous said...

High schoolers are kids and if you haven't taught a room full of them, you have no idea what it's like! You have to set limits as a teacher or the kids will run all over you! It is not a matter of control, it is a matter of setting boundaries so that student achievement can be everyone's main focus. And whoever made the comment about college - there is a BIG difference in college vs. high school students. High schoolers are made to come to school, college students are paying to come to school. The maturity level between a high schooler and a college students is also vastly different. I am a high school teacher and I give a punch card they can use. They have 3 to use 1st semester and 3 second. They are for emergencies. If, for some reason, they have an emergency and they have used all their passes, they can still go, but they must give up their time in detention. Most of the time, they will choose not to go, which tells me, it wasn't an emergency to start with. I also make them valuable to the students so they will use them sparingly. They are worth 2 pts each if not used. This encourages them not to just use them to get out of class. If a student has a problem, then a doctor's note should be on file and then they would not be limited to the 3 passes. No one should have more than 3 emergencies per semester. If so, there is a problem and a doctor's note should be on file. If you think this is taking away their rights, then you obviously don't know anything about high school-aged children!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this is from forever ago, but I have had kids do drug deals in the bathrooms during class time. I have also had students set up secret meetings between other students and engage in sexual conduct while they are supposed to be using the bathroom. Further, many students hide their cell phone and take it with them to the bathroom to communicate. It is a difficult issue because we do need the opportunity to use the restroom when we need to go, but there have to be limits because students are finding creative ways to engage in unsafe conduct while they are unsupervised by teachers. Unless we can get campus monitors to walk each student to the restroom, K-12...I am open to alternatives to the bathroom pass.

Paola Wing said...

A teenage girl who is on her cycle may need to use the restroom up to 3 times in a 45 min period if she is on a very heavy flow. For other situations if would be health/medical issues such as diaherra, UTI, and other health problems requireing using the restroom 3 times during class. WHEN SOMEONE NEEDS TO USE THE RESTROOM....LET THEM. PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

Apparently none of these people who say kids should use the restroom whenever they want have truly taught at a high school. Once I let out a student to use the restroom. One of my top acheiving students, and guess what???? I got a call from the office that she was caught giving head to a boy in the bathroom. This is why I do not let my students have that many bathroom passes. Two a semester unless they have a medical problem or come to me before class and explain the problem.

Anonymous said...

I teach high school alternative education. My students do not get any privileges during the day (ie. gym, free days for high achievement, etc.). So when they ask to go to the restroom, I let them because they are not allowed out of my classroom and they do not switch classes. However, my situation is different...the bathroom doors are locked at all times during the day. Each teacher has a key, so when a student has to use the restroom, they are escorted down, the door is unlocked and either the teacher or the classroom paraprofessional stands outside the door and waits for them. I never deny the right to use the restroom. I can use the restroom whenever I need to, so why can't they? We've all had restroom emergencies and I think it is unfair to tell a child they are only allowed to have 3 emergencies per semester. You cannot plan bathroom issues, so think about that the next time you deny a child their right to go to the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is "wow". I can't believe so many of you spend so much time devising systems regarding bathroom breaks. I would suggest you spend more time worrying about your teaching. If kids are so desperate to get out of your class, maybe you should ask yourself why.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that if students didn't grossly over-abuse the privilege/right (depending on how you look at it) to leave class to use the bathroom, teachers would not have to implement bathroom pass policies - period. By no means do I consider myself "conservative" - I'm a laid-back person by nature and would love nothing more than to have an open policy on this. My instinct is to treat my high school students like adults and give them the freedom to make the determination when it's imperative for them to leave class to use the restroom. To me there is nothing more adult than engaging in prudent decision-making, and I encourage my students to do this.

HOWEVER, if you want to be treated like an adult, then you need to act like a adult (within reason - I realize they are still kids at the end of the day). If you can't display reasonably mature/appropriate behavior, then I'm forced to implement silly policies such as this to minimize disruptions to my classroom environment - it's as simple as that. It's easy for someone who isn't a teacher to question this (or someone who teaches in a school where this isn't a problem), but if you could see the amount of disruption it causes, you would surely understand my policy (and probably even appreciate it - fewer disruptions to my classroom means fewer disruptions to your student's learning).

Unfortunately, in my school, without a policy restricting the number of trips a student can make out of the classroom, the classroom becomes a revolving door, with students leaving and coming in making a bunch of noise and disrupting others, leaving to go get drinks, leaving to get band-aids for invisible wounds, leaving to go call home because they forgot their gym clothes, or leaving just to go use their cell phone or walk around with friends (under the guise of having to use the bathroom).

Moreover, students at my school DO have eight opportunities during the day to use the restroom or take care of other needs - before school, between classes/at lunch, and after school - so it's not as if we are denying them the right to use the bathroom at all. A counterargument that students use is that the 5-minute passing time between classes is not enough, but I am a traveling teacher, and I can tell you that if I hurry, I have time to use the restroom and still make it to my next team-taught class on time. The problem is not that they don't have enough time, but that they think they shouldn't have to put themselves out by hurrying, planning ahead, and/or giving up time with friends (and that's really the larger issue here - it isn't a bathroom problem, it's a problem with students thinking they should be able to do what they want, when they want, how they want).

I don't implement policies like this until students demonstrate that they cannot handle the freedom and need more structure. If you want your student's freedoms unrestricted, then please teach them self-control and prudence - then this whole thing will be a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

I teach high school freshman, sophomores, and juniors. The restroom deal at our school is that they get 3 passes per class to leave for whatever reason every 9 weeks. 7 classes a day. They have a school issued planner notebook. We are allowed to write passes if they have gone over their limit. Some kids have really long bus rides home, and I have no problem letting them go to the restroom when they've gone over their limit.


Here's my bathroom (or leaving class) procedure:

"No teacher can be 100% sure when students really have to go or not, I will never prevent anyone that has had potty training to leave when they gotta go. I will, however, prevent students from stopping my flow of instruction, just to ask me for permission to leave class, sign their planner, date it, and put the time.

So here is what you are going to do in my class:
1. Fill out your own planner with your the date, time, and write where you are going. Don't stop me to sign it.
2. Fill out the Sign-Out/Sign-In Form on the back table with your first and last name, the period, where you're going, time you leave, and time you return. The date is already on the form.

Be quiet when doing these things and do what you have to do as quickly as possible.

If you get stopped by a teacher or administrator because you don't have a signature... Have them contact me, and you'll be fine."


Now, for the parents that are getting uppity about teachers not letting your kid go to the bathroom. The majority of kids in high school these days are out for teacher blood. Anything they can use against a teacher to make their lives miserable is a win in their book. You as parents need to a wake up call. These kids have nothing to lose... Are they going to be unable to pay rent if they get in trouble? Your poor kid got in trouble at school!! Give me a break!! I have 148 high school students with raging hormones to deal with. How many do you have?

We as teachers see and hear things from your child every day that you could never imagine. They act completely different than at home, I'm sure of it. The rights these kids have almost outweigh that of a teacher. The legal issues that can come upon a teacher is ridiculous. You have to be extremely careful about how you tell a parent about something their child did in class. You have to euphemize the language so much it's insane. For example, "Timmy is having issues with respect and staying on task in class. I was hoping you and I could work together on getting him a little more motivated".

What the parent really needs to here is "Look, your kid's a loser and a jerk, and he smells like butthole. Not armpit B.O., but plain ol' butthole. He never wants to do anything because it's not fun to him. He asked me to go to the bathroom and I said NO. Then I thought about it for a second and told him YES, because I figured he might as well get used to the bathroom because the world always needs janitors."

Christina Hawley said...

I say if they need to pee, let them. My challenge teacher said you can't control your bladder, so you can go to the bathroom no matter what in her classroom.

I say tell them that they can go, and if they stay out there for the whole class, think what if they are constipated? Seriously? They are old enough to know if they go, and i agree with karina, because i am female too. Seriously, just let them leave without asking questions.