Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If they don't like this bathroom policy, wait until they get a load of mine!

It seems some parents and students are in an uproar about a new bathroom visitation policy at a suburban Chicago high school. The school has a rule in place that limits to three the number of times a student can leave class to go to the bathroom during a given semester.

In typical overbearing, helicopter parent-type fashion, these overprotective parents - of high schoolers, mind you - gnashed their teeth for the news cameras as they denounced this horrific policy.

One parent, Bea Bailey, said, "This principal -- let him find out he's got diarrhea, and he's only told that he can go to the bathroom three times a semester and we'll see how this policy holds up with him."

Sorry, Bea, but you apparently have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Judging by her quote (and the way she said it, if you watch the video at the news story I linked) it almost seems like she believes the school is only going to let students go to the bathroom thrice in a semester under any circumstances. Uh, no. Again, the three time-only limit only applies to leaving class to go to the bathroom. Students still have before school, after school, during lunch, and passing periods between classes to go potty as much as they desire. I wish I could inform Bea that I teach straight through from 9:00am to 12:15pm, when my lunch starts. At that time, my morning coffee is ready to be purged, and off I go. How is it that I am able to make it long periods of time without having to use the bathroom, but these pitiful students, with their enabling parents, aren't able to go the distance? Are you telling me that the bladder of a high schooler isn't yet fully developed?

I learned early on as a new teacher that there are plenty of students who will ask to go to the bathroom every class period of every single day. Quite often, students who have different classes with their friends will coordinate their clocks and ask their respective teachers to go to the bathroom at a designated time, and then the friends will meet up to do God-knows-what.

You think three visits is harsh? For years now, I have had a ONE-visit-per-quarter policy that has worked quite nicely. At the beginning of each quarter, I issue to every one of my students a bathroom pass that is good for one visit to the bathroom. The pass is the size of a half-sheet of paper. I have it saved on a Word document with two passes on one sheet of paper. After I make my copies, I cut the stack in half with a slicer.

This bathroom pass has been one of the most successful policies I have ever instituted in my classroom. Every quarter, I enter the bathroom pass as an extra credit assignment on my gradebook. After I hand out the passes, I record on the gradebook that the students received their pass. I then inform/remind them that this is their one and only chance to go to the bathroom for this quarter. If they absolutely, positively have to go now now now, then that is what the pass is for. If they don't use the pass, and they hang on to it without losing it for the entire quarter, then at the end of the quarter, they can turn in their bathroom pass to me for a 3% bump on their final quarter grade. For example, if their final quarter grade is an 87%, the unused bathroom pass moves their grade up to a 90%. If a student actually uses the pass (and I do everything I can to remind them of what they are giving up if they use it), they turn it in to me upon their return from the bathroom, and I record in the gradebook that they used it. This way, it does no good for a student to make copies of his pass, as I check the gradebook to make sure they haven't used it.

I usually have between 160-180 students. Every quarter, I get an average of maybe 5 students who actually use their bathroom pass. Before I instituted my bathroom pass policy, I had dozens of students going to the bathroom every day.

We teachers see the reality of what it is like if visits to the bathroom are not regulated, which makes me shake my head in indignation as I watch these parents in that news clip with their knee-jerk reactions against the school's very reasonable and overly-generous bathroom policy. I actually think three visits is too many. One has worked just fine in my classroom for years.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson


3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

Ahh the bathroom rule. I am so torn on it. I know it is "wrong" to not allow a child to use the restroom, but it is not like we say "no bathroom from 8am-12:30pm" like us teachers must abide to. No, they get passing period or recess or what have you (depending on if they're in elementary or secondary). I was a long term sub in a grade 5/6 class and had "bathroom tickets", 3 a month. The children had before school, recess, lunch, afternoon break to use the restroom plus when they went to Pe or the library. And the principal decided to replace me with another sub because of my unfair bathroom policy. Grr. And in "real life" can every worker use the restroom whenever, as much as they wish? Do you see cashiers, halfway through a transaction, dashing to the restroom? Doctors, mid-surgery, saying they will be right back? Security guards leaving their post 5 times in one day to use the restroom? No.
But...a no bathroom policy is not right either. I recall in grade 4 having a no-bathroom-policy teacher. I was not feeling well and left for the restroom mid-class and got in huge trouble and had to stay in for recess, as punishment, for two weeks. Had we had the ticket system you and I implement, it would have been more fair.
But...I've been told I damage children,abuse them, by not allowing them to use the restroom when they want. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I, too, had a stringent bathroom policy when I taught. The students knew what it was, and I enforced it fairly. It allowed for a student who was ill and about to make a mess on the floor or in his clothes. As a teacher, I once had a schedule that started at 8 am, and went solid to 12:50 pm. It was tough for me and I don't recommed it for anyone. However, I did go through 4 years of high school and never, not once, at all left class to go to the bathroom.

Darren said...

I *have* to ask: were the last 5 words of your title a hilarious pun, or did you not even catch that?