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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Classroom Management Series: Restroom Usage Policy

Are you looking for some time-tested, evidence-based ways to enhance your classroom management?  My post on creating a restroom usage policy will guide you through the steps to help you decide if you need a restroom usage policy and how to implement one!

This is the fourth post in my Classroom Management Series.  If you missed it, be sure to check out the previous posts:
Teaching Expectations After the Year has Started

Classroom Management Series: Restroom Usage Policy

First, let me say that this is one of those tough situations because no one wants to restrict bathroom usage. 

Students should be able to use the restroom whenever they need to, right?  Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t guide students with some good classroom management!

Step 1: Make Sure It’s Not a Medical Issue

If you notice the same students going to the restroom over and over, ask the school nurse if there’s anything medically relevant that you should know about the student in relation to bathroom usage.  If not, the nurse might want to call home and make sure the medical records aren't missing some important medical information about the student in that area.  

Step 2: Talk to Students Individually 

Have a conversation with the students who go at the same time consistently and make a plan for what they need to be successful.  Sometimes just a chat with the student will clear things up.

Step 3: Don’t Restrict Restroom Use at All, But Still Have Policies in Place. 

For Example:

  • Whenever possible, have students go between periods. 
  • Alternatively, have them ask to use the restroom as soon as they come in the room. 
  • If a student must go after class has started, they can go with a pass as long as it's during their independent work time. 
  • Make sure students leave their cell phone with the teacher when they leave to use the restroom.

What if you've tried all this, but it's still not working?

Keep a Log of When/Where/How Long a Student Uses the Restroom

If, however, students are roaming the hallways or abusing their restroom privileges, then you might want to keep a log of when/how long they are gone and when they return.  This is an excellent tool to share with parents and your colleagues so that everyone is on the same page.  

Before reading the next part, I urge you to read this article, written by a pediatric urologist about restricting restroom usage.

Use a Punch Card

Some schools have a school-wide pass that students get every nine weeks.  It’s a punch card with two punches per class.  A nice behavior management technique to go with this is allowing students to “purchase” additional out of class passes with classroom incentive “bucks”.  Everyone wins in this case because students have to make good choices in order to earn their bucks to buy extra bathroom or out of class time.

Some Things to Consider Before Using a Punch Card:  

  • What will you do if the students lose their pass?  
    • Will you enforce the policy that they won’t be able to leave class?  
    • Will you have them “buy” passes as a backup in that case?
  • What if students don't use all their punches?  
    • Can they turn them in for extra credit or classroom privileges?

Do you do anything else regarding your restroom usage policy?  This is one of those subjects I can't ever learn enough about, so please share your thoughts and tips with me!

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