As teachers, we’ve all been there before. We’ve started our class, and things seem to be going great. Our students are engaged and interested. Our lesson is working out better than anticipated. And even the classroom discussion is a thing for the record books. You are even thinking that this could be the best lesson and classroom discussion ever, or, at least for this school year.
Then it happens...
A girl toward the middle of the room raises her had. You call on her thinking that she is going to contribute to this exceptional classroom discussion; the students think the same thing, and all eyes are on her.
Meekly she says, “May I use the restroom?”
And with just those five words, the momentum of the discussion is gone, the classroom is silent, and the students are distracted.
This used to happen to me all of the time.
Passing period is when students are supposed to use the restroom. They are given a set amount of time to go from one class to another, and also take care of any business they may have. Although, sometimes students need to ask another teacher for clarification after class, pick up absent work, or drop off a note at the attendance office. And also, sometimes students just want a break from class, and taking a leisurely stroll to the restroom is just the ticket.
After my first couple years of teaching, I grew tired of students wanting to use the restroom during my class, and that is why I came up with my Limited Restroom Pass solution. It’s great, and it has completely changed the way my classroom operates.
In the beginning of each semester, I pass out these passes to my students. I print them on colored paper, and each semester I use a different color of paper.
The passes have six boxes on them. These boxes represent the only six times a student may use the pass. At the end of the semester, I give the students a couple points per box of extra credit for each unused box. This teaches the students about choices. They can choose to use their six restroom opportunities and waste them, or they can use them only when they absolutely need to. After implementing this policy several years ago, I saw a drastic reduction in students asking to use the restroom during my class period.
My Two Restroom Pass Rules
1. You must have your pass with you to use the restroom
I will make exceptions if absolutely necessary. The last thing I want is to unintentionally mortify a student if he or she has an accident. However, I feel that this rule teaches students accountability and responsibility; they need to keep track of this one ¼ sheet of paper throughout the entire semester.
2. Raise the pass up slightly in the air to get my attention
This rule makes asking to use the restroom a completely non-verbal task. I can easily spot the pass, go over to the student without distracting the class, and sign the pass.
You can download my restroom pass from my TeachersPayTeachers store. It is completely free!