I need some ideas as to what to do about the students racing to use the restroom. The morning is never a problem. It's always after lunch when they all feel the need to want to use the restroom. I have a "one person only" policy, they have to sign out, take the pass, etc. It just seems like once one starts, everyone wants to go. This is the scene: they're doing their independent work, but at the same time watching to see when the next person returns and signs back in. As soon as that person puts the pencil down, 3 of them stand up as quickly as they can to see who goes first! Or they just fly out of their seats to get to the sign out sheet first. I told them I wasn't allowing that to happen anymore, but I have to figure out an alternative. This was only the 3rd day of school but I've never had this issue before!! Another teacher at school recommended charging them $5 in classroom cash if they have to use the restroom during the last hour. What does everyone else do?
After lunch, you could take them as a group, and end this issue. It might be worth it. I always find at the beginning of the year bathroom rushes are much more of an issue than later in the year. Either they're feeling the freedom, or their body is not on a schedule yet from summer.
...but the problem with whole-class after-school bathroom breaks is that the majority of the school is doing the same. Even at our school, where each grade level has their own set of bathrooms, there is always a traffic jam/huge wait time.
I am looking forward to the advice you get; I am curious on this also!
I'm fortunate in that we have a third/fourth grade wing.. and they all go to lunch as I'm going back to class, so we use the one in their hall for our group break. The only thing I can suggest, that I have used in the past... is that I make the sign out list. I just tell them, when the instruction is over, they can go to the restroom... have everyone who wants to leave raise their hand and make the list. I've posted it near the door with a push pin, or near the passes... then as one student comes back, he/she checks the list to see who is next and gives them the pass. I also do one boy, one girl.. so it moves a little faster than way...
The boy and girl both going at once doesn't work for me because I, once again, will only have one girl in my class. Same thing happens though in my room. Soon as one asks to go, the rest start piping up. Finally, I made the rule that anyone who needed to go had to do so during snack break. That way, the whole class went at once and it stopped the constant disruption at the end of the day. It just worked out with our break time to do it that way.
I have a boy's pass and a girl's pass up hanging on the door. The children may use the bathroom as long as the pass is up. If they are using it, they take it down and place it on their hook so I know where they are.
I bought a few small whiteboards at the dollar store and have them around the room. I have one for the bathroom, the computers and any other popluar places. If a student is waiting for a turn he writes him number on the board. The next student writes hers underneath. As one returns he erases his number and the next one goes.
I just teach them to make an organized line at the white board when they come back from lunch if they need to go.
My teammate and I ran into a similiar problem last year. Also, students asking to go every period. ( I teach middle school, students change classes every hour)
Here's how we solved it. At the beginning of every month we gave the students a sheet of paper with 4 bathroom passes (you can use what ever number you want). Those were their passes to use as they chose. The students do get a mid morning break and after lunch break as a class. Other than that they had to use one of their passes to go any other time. If they used them all the first week, then they didn't get to go any more. We were firm with that! A bit of whining when we first explained it, but they got used to it. And, no parent complaints either. We explained also to the girls (privately, of course) that they would probably have a particular time when they need to use theirs.
Then at the end of the month, any left over passes could be used for extra credit points for any class they chose.
You would be suprised at how many of the beginning of the year "frequent users" were able to save for the bonus points at the end of the month.
I give the students a set amount of minutes per week to be "out of the classroom." They can use those minutes for whatever they want - get a drink, call mom in the office, get something out of a locker, go to the restroom, just get out of te room for a few seconds.
But once those minutes are gone, they're gone. In a dire emergency, they may leave but the time has to be made up out of their recess, which cuts down on the leaving for leaving's sake.
I give out raffle tickets for every minute under the limit that they have left at the end of the week, too, which cuts down on the use of minutes. They tend to plan their day better - use the restroom at recess to avoid having to use minutes during class or remember to get everything from their backpacks before class, for example.
Five minutes per week was more than sufficient for most students.
ETA: Oh, and I have an electronic hall pass timer. So the students were responsible for writing down how long they were gone, but it keeps track of the last three sessions, so I could spot check for truthfulness.
1. You could do the group break before lunch and leave a few minutes early if everyone usually does a group break after lunch/recess.
2. Since our classroom door is close enough that I can see to the bathrooms, I would read aloud a story or chapter book after recess and only call small tables to use the restroom and get a drink. When everyone from one table came back, I would call the next table which alleviated anyone from abusing the privilege and spending "playtime" in the bathroom. The students knew in advance that I would not call another table until everyone from the first table was back. I could also stand in the door way to read if necessary and still keep my eye on the kids using the bathroom while reading to the rest of the class and did not have to use a "whole class" group break. If you don't have direct access to the restrooms, maybe you could have a bathroom monitor as one of your classroom jobs to stand outside the bathroom area.
The only time I take my whole class to the restroom is after lunch. First thing in the morning, and last thing in the afternoon, I do something simple called "Bathroom Tap". I send out one girl and one boy to the restroom. When those students return, the girl taps another girl on the shoulder. If that girl needs to go to the restroom, she goes. If not, she just shakes her head no, and the girl taps the next girl. Same thing for the boys.
This works great for me, and really cuts down on distractions.