Bathroom Pass System for the Classroom

Minimize lesson disruptions with this easy tracking method

toilet paper
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Covering all of the points in a planned lesson often takes every moment of class time. Students who interrupt you to ask for permission to use the restroom throw you off your tight schedule and disrupt their classmates' attention. You can minimize the distraction with a bathroom pass system that allows students to excuse themselves, giving them some limited autonomy. 

Take time at the beginning of the year to explain your rules about appropriate and inappropriate times to use the restroom.

Remind students that they have the preferred time before school, between classes, and at lunch to use the bathroom. While you can never deny a student access to the toilet, you might set a rule that no student can sign out during the first or last 5 minutes of class or during lecture. This allows enough time for you to complete a mini-lesson or giving directions.

Set Up Your Bathroom Pass System

Some teachers use clipboards holding a paper that has columns to record the student's name, destination, the time out and the time back. Students fill out each column independently and take the generic bathroom pass to their destination. This system records daily activity by all students.

Another bathroom pass system suggestion uses a plastic index card holder and 3x5 index cards, one per student. At the beginning of the school year, pass out 3x5 index cards and ask students to write their name. Then have them divide the flip side of the index card into four equal areas.

In the upper right corner of each quadrant, they should put a 1, 2, 3 or 4 to correspond to the four grading quarters. (Adjust the layout for trimesters or other terms.) 

Instruct students to label a row across the top of each area with a D for Date, T for Time and I for Initial. File the cards alphabetically in the plastic holder grouped by class periods and find a convenient location near the door to keep it.

Ask them to return the card to the holder in a vertical position so it stands out from the others; you will go through after class or at the end of the day and initial them. This system records daily activity by individual students.

Explain Your Bathroom Pass Tracking Method

Let students know that your system allows them to excuse themselves from class for a few minutes when they really need to go. Tell the students that if they want to use the restroom, they should quietly fill in the chart or retrieve their card without interrupting you or their classmates and enter the date and time in the appropriate place. 

Monitoring the Restroom Pass System

Whatever the system you adopt, whether it is a sign-in/sign-out sheet or index cards, you should make sure that all students are following the system.
You should also look for patterns. For example, is a student leaving at the same time daily? 
Are the restroom visits having a negative impact on academic? Does the student make poor choices about when to leave? If you notice any of these, you have a discussion with the student. 

While some teachers dangle prizes for not using bathroom passes, there can be some health issues associated with students ignoring their bodies' signals.

There are also medical conditions, including pregnancy, that increase trips to the restroom. Teachers should always be aware of any medical conditions listed on a students individual educational plan (IEP) or 504.

Tips

  • You could also Include trips to the locker, other classrooms, etc. in the bathroom pass passes.
  • The index cards are inexpensive to use and to replace, which makes them more sanitary than other objects.
  • If your school uses physical hall passes, keep those near the card file so students can grab one on their way out of the door.