Many teachers dislike the question, “May I go to the bathroom, please?” Some feel writing passes wastes too much time out of instruction, while others are afraid some students might taken advantage if allowed too freely.

On an educational forum on the website Reddit, one user asked for teacher input. How does one find the right balance of freedom, personal responsibility and classroom order? Here are some of the collected responses.

1. I have a permanent restroom/hall pass. It hangs by my door. The kids know that if we are working independently, they just need to make sure the pass is there, signal to me they are going, and then go.

If I’m lecturing or busy, they know not to ask and just wait. I also teach high school, so this may not apply to [some] situations.

I hate getting asked all the time, and there’s no way I’m going to write a pass every time they need to go somewhere.

2. I teach middle school and have an ‘open pass’ that anyone can take. They can go to the restroom, their locker, water fountain, whatever, as long as they don’t cause any trouble. A few kids have gotten the privilege taken away for the week, but it generally works great.

When other teachers at my school hear about it, it melts their brains.

3. I give them three passes with their name printed on them, when they want to go to the bathroom they have to fill out the pass, bring it to me and ask in French (at an appropriate time), I sign it, they take it to the bathroom and put it in a bucket on my desk when they get back.

When the passes are gone they are done going to the bathroom for the semester (barring emergencies which don’t require passes). Students with extra passes at the end get 5 extra credit points each.

4. My kids have three minutes to walk between classes and sometimes that involves moving buildings across campus. It’s impossible to find the time to go during passing time.

My kids are also adults, and they don’t need to ask my permission if they need to go to the potty to tinkle.

They get up, sign out, leave, come back, sign in, and sit down. If someone’s out, they can’t go until that person comes back.

Treating them like adults allows them to act like adults.

  • What do you think is the best way to handle the question?