Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"I need to go to the bathroom!"

How many times have you heard that phrase right in the middle of a lesson? Or worse yet, you're rockin' a lesson, the kids are into it, participation is high and they're on a roll. You call on an eager hand raiser thinking they have a great comment to add to the discussion and instead, you get the dreaded question that brings everything to a halt. "Can I go to the bathroom?"  Ugh.

In my early years of teaching I didn't have a system for letting kids use the bathroom. I just assumed that they would be honest and go when they needed to. Instead, I had kids trying to go to meet up with friends, to get out of working, and every other imaginable reason. Now, I spend a significant amount of time training my kids to go only during work times, recess, or lunch. Plus, I use the magical bathroom tokens.
These are poker chips that I spray painted to match the colors of my room. If you aren't obsessed with having everything matchy-matchy like me, you can use unpainted chips. Each child gets 4 tokens a week. They may use these tokens during working times to use the bathroom. The catch is that they only get 4 so they have to use them wisely. Kids who have 3 or 4 left on Friday get 2 punches on their punch card.  If they have 1 or 2 left, they get one punch. I encourage my kids to use the bathroom for "free" during recess and lunch so that they don't have to use their tokens. Every token has the child's number on it so that I can return them on Monday. It has been the BEST bathroom system and has eliminated unnecessary trips to the BR which means more time for learning!


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