No Potty For You!

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by on September 3, 2013

Earlier this evening  Scott McLeod shared this tweet:

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It made me laugh a little because I used to be that teacher. During the second semester of my second year of teaching I had a couple of students who were the bane of my existence. They would constantly ask to go to the bathroom because they knew they were supposed to go before they came to class. Well I got smart and I showed them who was in charge. I limited them to two bathroom passes each quarter!

I was so proud of my rule change and I could not wait to share my brilliant idea with my principal. Instead of telling me right up front that my idea was the most asinine thing he’d ever heard,  he gently guided me to that realization on my own.  He started by asking how many students used the bathroom more than what I believe to be a reasonable amount of times each week. (It really was just 2 or 3.) It was on that day that I learned to never, ever make rules for all based on the actions of a few.

Then he asked me the most obvious question of all. “What are you going to do when a student asks to go to the restroom but they are all out of passes?” He pointed out that all I was doing was setting myself up for a power struggle and he was right. I also learned that day to never make rules that I could not enforce consistently.

A couple of years ago I came across this brilliant post by George Couros called One Rule. I have adopted the Nordstrom rule for my classroom and it has led to some great discussions with my students. I don’t waste class time providing them with a laundry list of all of the things they can’t do. Instead, we spend time discussing what using our best judgement looks like. They tell me what it looks like, I don’t tell them. This might not sound like a big deal, but it makes all of the difference in the world.

If you are a new teacher the best advice I can give you is to empower your students and pick your battles wisely. Getting hung up on how many times a student uses the bathroom is not the mountain that you want to die on.





4 Responses to “No Potty For You!”

  1.   rossmannell Says:

    Very wise words. :)


  2.   Jacquelyne Mckiernan Says:

    My name is Jacquelyne Mckiernan I am a student studying to be an Elementary teacher. I had a teacher in high school who only allowed us 3 bathroom passes a quarter. It was very difficult to decide when it was an emergency or not and it caused me and the other students to fight our teacher on it constantly. We wasted more time arguing about the bathroom than we did discussing the lecture. Your advice on choosing your battles wisely is great advice because I believe if my teacher had chosen more wisely we would have had more time for lecture the class itself would have been more successful.


  3.   Savanah Moore Says:

    My name is Savanah Moore and I am a student at the University of South Alabama studying to be an elementary teacher. I remember being in school and getting a bathroom pass sheet at the beginning of the semester. My teachers would always make the rule that for every bathroom pass you didn’t use, they would add points to your final grade. I was always one of those kids who did as much extra credit stuff as I could even though I already had an A in the class so I never used my passes no matter how badly I had to go because I wanted those extra points! I understand the concept and it sounds great on paper but it would never work in real life. I would rather one kid miss 5 minutes of class than the whole class missing 30 minutes because someone had an accident.


  4.   Tarcela Kohn Says:

    I am Tarcela Kohn I am a student at the University of South Alabama, in Mobile. I am majoring in Elementary Education. I am aware that since I will be working with younger kids, I will be making time for the restroom depending on the grade level I teach.There really will not be any restroom passes for Kindergartners. Thank you for the great advice! I was very useful information.


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