Student Restroom Woes

As teachers, we’ve all been there before. We’ve started our class, and things seem to be going great. Our students are engaged and interested. Our lesson is working out better than anticipated. And even the classroom discussion is a thing for the record books. You are even thinking that this could be the best lesson and classroom discussion ever, or, at least for this school year.

Then it happens...

A girl toward the middle of the room raises her had. You call on her thinking that she is going to contribute to this exceptional classroom discussion; the students think the same thing, and all eyes are on her.

Meekly, she says, “May I use the restroom?”

And with just those five words, the momentum of the discussion is gone, the classroom is silent, and the students are distracted.

This used to happen to me all of the time.

Passing period is when students are supposed to use the restroom. They are given a set amount of time to go from one class to another, and also take care of any business they may have. Although, sometimes students need to ask another teacher for clarification after class, pick up absent work, or drop off a note at the attendance office. And also, sometimes students just want a break from class, and taking a leisurely stroll to the restroom is just the ticket.

After my first couple years of teaching, I grew tired of students wanting to use the restroom during my class, and that is why I came up with my Limited Restroom Pass solution. It’s great, and it has completely changed the way my classroom operates.

In the beginning of each semester, I pass out these passes to my students. I print them on colored paper, and each semester I use a different color of paper.

Download a FREE Limited-Use Restroom Pass

The passes have six boxes on them. These boxes represent the only six times a student may use the pass. At the end of the semester, I give the students a couple points per box of extra credit for each unused box. This teaches the students about choices. They can choose to use their six restroom opportunities and waste them, or they can use them only when they absolutely need to. After implementing this policy several years ago, I saw a drastic reduction in students asking to use the restroom during my class period.

My Two Restroom Pass Rules

1. You must have your pass with you to use the restroom
I will make exceptions if absolutely necessary. The last thing I want is to unintentionally mortify a student if he or she has an accident. However, I feel that this rule teaches students accountability and responsibility; they need to keep track of this one ¼ sheet of paper throughout the entire semester.

2. Raise the pass up slightly in the air to get my attention
This rule makes asking to use the restroom a completely non-verbal task. I can easily spot the pass, go over to the student without distracting the class, and sign the pass.

You can download my restroom pass from my TeachersPayTeachers store. It is completely free! 

Five Things Every Teacher Should Do On Spring Break

Spring Break is here! Let’s all jump for joy, shout from the rooftops, and crash in our beds and SLEEP IN!

Here is a list of 5 things every teacher should do over Spring Break.
5. Read a Book: Don’t read anything for school. Read something for YOU! Whether it is a guilty pleasure book or a favorite classic, we should enjoy the moment.
I plan on rereading Mocking Jay. I can’t wait for the second movie!

4. Try Something New: As teachers our days are so scheduled. Wake up at this time, leave at this time, classes start now, and then it’s 25 minutes for lunch….rinse and repeat. Spring Break is a break from that routine. Try a new hobby, new restaurant, new recipe, or new cocktail.
I plan to try some new techniques with my photography.

3. Sleep in: I’m not sure about you, but I have to be out of the door by 6:20 a.m. in order to make it to school on time. That means a wake up call at 5:30 a.m. on days I don’t go to the gym, and 4:30 a.m. on days that I do go to the gym. That’s really early.
I’ve already slept in until 8 a.m. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

2. Enjoy Family Time: It is so easy to fall into a routine during the school year. Plan something fun with your family. Perhaps a staycation in your area is just what you need.
My husband, two children, and I are planning a day trip to Carlsbad to go to Legoland. I can’t wait.

1. Eat Lunch at a Leisurely Pace: The bells rule our lives at school. A bell rings signaling its time to eat our lunches as fast as humanely possible so that we can run to the copy room and make a class set of copies, squeeze in two phone calls home, check emails, and maybe use the restroom before our lunch is over.

I plan to meet up with some girl friends for lunch and enjoy appetizers, an entrĂ©e, and maybe dessert. It won’t be rushed at all.  

ESL students and Grammar: Going Back to the Basics

Today is National Grammar Day.
As English teachers, grammar is something that is always on our minds. We think about grammar as we create lesson plans and as we grade our students' essays. We think about it as we casually surf the Internet, and we think about it as we see typos and errors on billboards and grocery store circulars.

Correct grammar and language usage comes easily for some people. It is something that probably comes easily to most English teachers. IFor us, it's almost like second nature to use the correct verb form and  make subjects and verbs agree. However, for some, grammar doesn't come as easily.

This is something I've come to see in my own students -especially my ESL students. These are the students who really struggle in my class. They don't struggle because they aren't trying or don't care. They struggle because they lack the necessary language skills and background knowledge. The most important thing to remember about these students is that it is not their fault. Perhaps their parents don't speak English. Perhaps their parents can't read or write. Perhaps these students don't have people to converse with daily in English.

Every year I have many ESL students on my roster. I know that they require more attention and extra support. Most importantly, teaching ESL students requires extra patience! One technique I have found to be especially helpful in teaching ESL students, especially high school students who missed fundamental grammar instruction at an earlier age, is to go back to the basics. 

Yes, it might seem crazy to teach parts of speech to high schoolers. I mean, these sixteen year olds are driving and dating. Shouldn't they know the difference between a noun and a verb? The answer often times is no. No, these students do not know the difference between a noun and a verb, and many of these students can't even name all of the parts of speech. So why is it that we seem to think that they can grasp more complicated grammatical subjects?

There are many resources available online to help teachers go back to the basics and teach these fundamental skills to students. However, if you are looking for something a little more tailored to older students, you might want to check out these grammar resources!