Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
September 29, 2015 Classroom Checkout Systems: Bathroom, Nurse, and More By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Go ahead and take a breath — you have survived the first few weeks of school. Nicely done! By this time students are familiar with classroom routines, teachers have memorized their schedules, and things are beginning to run like a well-oiled machine! Well, almost. It is usually this time of year when I start to realize there are some small changes I should make to my classroom and other areas of organization that have slid under my radar during the back-to-school blur. For me, this issue is classroom checkout systems. How do you manage bathroom visits or trips to the nurse in an organized and hassle-free way?

    Picture this: It is 9:30 a.m. We have just begun working on our math lesson for the day when suddenly a hand shoots up from the back of the room. “Mrs. Nehring, may I go to the bathroom?” As you well know, this is a contagious situation. I now find myself standing in front of 23 6- and 7-year-olds who I know will inevitably all need to use the restroom within the next 20 minutes. This used to be a stressful situation for me as teacher. I struggled to balance the need to continue with instruction and the unpredictability of elementary school bladders. Now, after years of trial and error and some great input from my colleagues, I have compiled the following list of classroom checkout systems. I hope these help you be able to more smoothly control the traffic in and out of your classroom and bring a little more sanity to your day.

     

    Bathroom Visits

    I’ve tried it all when it comes to bathroom checkout systems. I had the cute little bathroom passes that students carried in the hallway, but those ended up left in the sink. I tried having students sign in and out of the room so I could track frequent-flyers. The issue here was that first graders can take longer to write on a chart than they would just going to the restroom. Finally, I found my morning and afternoon bathroom pass system and it has worked like a charm!

    Each student in my classroom has a small owl pass with their name written on it that hangs directly next to the door. When a student needs to use the restroom they remove one of their two halves of the pass (one half is for a morning bathroom visit and the other half for the afternoon). The student then places their owl pass in the small cup I have on a shelf near the door. If during the afternoon the same student needs to use the restroom again, they can take the second half of their owl and put it in the cup. The pass never leaves the classroom. The next morning I re-stick all of the owl passes to their Velcro spots by the door, and my passes are ready for use once again. By implementing this two-visit system I have significantly reduced the number of students who try to use frequent bathroom visits as social opportunities or as a way to get out of class. (Obviously, if there is real need for a third trip, exceptions are made.) I don’t have to try and remember which students have already gone to the bathroom because I have visual proof from the owls missing from the wall.

         

    Another teacher in my school, Marci Johnson, has a similar system with magnets. She gives each child a bathroom magnet to stick to the side of their metal desks. When they go to the restroom they put their pass in a prominent place near the light switch and leave without interrupting the class. When the student returns from the bathroom they put their pass in the bathroom box on Mrs. Johnson’s desk. At lunchtime Mrs. Johnson returns any used passes to the students so they have them for afternoon bathroom visits.

         

    If you are an art, music, physical education, library, or even middle school teacher who can’t use the student pass system because of the sheer number of students rotating through your class each day, give one of these pass systems a try:

    • Hand sanitizer bottle passes: Buy two bottles of hand sanitizer and label one for boys and one for girls. When a student needs to use the restroom they can put the bottle of hand sanitizer at their seat to visually show you that they are missing from the room. When they return they clean their hands with a pump from the pass and return the pass to your desk or table where it is stored. Not only does this provide a 3D, eye-catching way to know who is gone from the class, but it also helps keep germs away. Print out these labels I created to wrap around standard size hand sanitizer bottles and you are ready to go!

    • Picture frame passes: Another great pass idea comes from Julie Lochen, a third grade teacher at my school. She was looking for a pass that was easy to spot from the front of the room and that matched her camping classroom theme. She bought these plastic standing frames from Ikea for about a dollar and slid in her bathroom pass images. Now when students leave the room they just place the pass on their desk, and Mrs. Lochen can see right away who is there and who is not.

    Trips to the Nurse

     

    Most schools have hundreds of students and only one school nurse, so as teachers we like to try and avoid sending students to the nurse unless it is absolutely necessary. Make yourself a classroom first aid kid to treat minor injuries without a student ever leaving the room. My kit contains:

    1. Bandages! You can never have enough of these. Between gym shoe blisters and paper cuts, we go through a box of bandages each year.

    2. Cough drops. Make sure you buy the ones that are just for lubricating throats and do not contain any active medication ingredients. But also make sure that they are cough drops and not hard candy or you will suddenly notice an epidemic of sore throats looking for a tasty treat.

    3. Petroleum jelly and cotton swabs. While we are still enjoying nice weather now, eventually the cold will come and chapped lips will be a constant problem in the classroom. For students who forget to bring lip balm from home, keep a small container of petroleum jelly and sterile cotton swabs in your first aid kit. When a student with cracked lips comes your way, just give them a small amount of petroleum jelly on a cotton swab to keep their lips clean and moistened.

    4. Safety pins. Don’t worry, these are not for classroom surgery, but they do come in handy for fixing torn clothing that might otherwise warrant a trip to the nurse for a change of clothes. Plus, if you keep safety pins in your first aid kit, you will always be prepared in case of your own wardrobe malfunction.

    5. Extra child-sized socks. Blisters abound with cute little summer shoes. When bandages just won’t stay on, try giving a student a new pair of socks to keep the bandage in place and avoid shoe rubbing. You can get a 10-pack of kid’s socks from Walmart for $6.

     

    Passes for Nurse, Library, and Office Visits

    For all the other out-of-classroom excursions your students may have to make during the day, try using laminated or plastic dry-erase passes for flexibility. Ms. Fluger, a fourth grade teacher at my school, has bright white plastic passes that can be written on so her students can specify where they will be going. Ms. Fluger uses two passes as dedicated bathroom passes, and the other serves as a miscellaneous pass for whatever occasion may arise. I just saw this system of hers recently and I know I will be giving it a try as well!

    I hope that you now have some new ideas for organizing the in-and-out flow of students in your classrooms. Do you use a great system that I haven’t mentioned? Please leave a comment below and share it with all of us teachers. You can never have enough ideas for making your life just a bit easier!

    Go ahead and take a breath — you have survived the first few weeks of school. Nicely done! By this time students are familiar with classroom routines, teachers have memorized their schedules, and things are beginning to run like a well-oiled machine! Well, almost. It is usually this time of year when I start to realize there are some small changes I should make to my classroom and other areas of organization that have slid under my radar during the back-to-school blur. For me, this issue is classroom checkout systems. How do you manage bathroom visits or trips to the nurse in an organized and hassle-free way?

    Picture this: It is 9:30 a.m. We have just begun working on our math lesson for the day when suddenly a hand shoots up from the back of the room. “Mrs. Nehring, may I go to the bathroom?” As you well know, this is a contagious situation. I now find myself standing in front of 23 6- and 7-year-olds who I know will inevitably all need to use the restroom within the next 20 minutes. This used to be a stressful situation for me as teacher. I struggled to balance the need to continue with instruction and the unpredictability of elementary school bladders. Now, after years of trial and error and some great input from my colleagues, I have compiled the following list of classroom checkout systems. I hope these help you be able to more smoothly control the traffic in and out of your classroom and bring a little more sanity to your day.

     

    Bathroom Visits

    I’ve tried it all when it comes to bathroom checkout systems. I had the cute little bathroom passes that students carried in the hallway, but those ended up left in the sink. I tried having students sign in and out of the room so I could track frequent-flyers. The issue here was that first graders can take longer to write on a chart than they would just going to the restroom. Finally, I found my morning and afternoon bathroom pass system and it has worked like a charm!

    Each student in my classroom has a small owl pass with their name written on it that hangs directly next to the door. When a student needs to use the restroom they remove one of their two halves of the pass (one half is for a morning bathroom visit and the other half for the afternoon). The student then places their owl pass in the small cup I have on a shelf near the door. If during the afternoon the same student needs to use the restroom again, they can take the second half of their owl and put it in the cup. The pass never leaves the classroom. The next morning I re-stick all of the owl passes to their Velcro spots by the door, and my passes are ready for use once again. By implementing this two-visit system I have significantly reduced the number of students who try to use frequent bathroom visits as social opportunities or as a way to get out of class. (Obviously, if there is real need for a third trip, exceptions are made.) I don’t have to try and remember which students have already gone to the bathroom because I have visual proof from the owls missing from the wall.

         

    Another teacher in my school, Marci Johnson, has a similar system with magnets. She gives each child a bathroom magnet to stick to the side of their metal desks. When they go to the restroom they put their pass in a prominent place near the light switch and leave without interrupting the class. When the student returns from the bathroom they put their pass in the bathroom box on Mrs. Johnson’s desk. At lunchtime Mrs. Johnson returns any used passes to the students so they have them for afternoon bathroom visits.

         

    If you are an art, music, physical education, library, or even middle school teacher who can’t use the student pass system because of the sheer number of students rotating through your class each day, give one of these pass systems a try:

    • Hand sanitizer bottle passes: Buy two bottles of hand sanitizer and label one for boys and one for girls. When a student needs to use the restroom they can put the bottle of hand sanitizer at their seat to visually show you that they are missing from the room. When they return they clean their hands with a pump from the pass and return the pass to your desk or table where it is stored. Not only does this provide a 3D, eye-catching way to know who is gone from the class, but it also helps keep germs away. Print out these labels I created to wrap around standard size hand sanitizer bottles and you are ready to go!

    • Picture frame passes: Another great pass idea comes from Julie Lochen, a third grade teacher at my school. She was looking for a pass that was easy to spot from the front of the room and that matched her camping classroom theme. She bought these plastic standing frames from Ikea for about a dollar and slid in her bathroom pass images. Now when students leave the room they just place the pass on their desk, and Mrs. Lochen can see right away who is there and who is not.

    Trips to the Nurse

     

    Most schools have hundreds of students and only one school nurse, so as teachers we like to try and avoid sending students to the nurse unless it is absolutely necessary. Make yourself a classroom first aid kid to treat minor injuries without a student ever leaving the room. My kit contains:

    1. Bandages! You can never have enough of these. Between gym shoe blisters and paper cuts, we go through a box of bandages each year.

    2. Cough drops. Make sure you buy the ones that are just for lubricating throats and do not contain any active medication ingredients. But also make sure that they are cough drops and not hard candy or you will suddenly notice an epidemic of sore throats looking for a tasty treat.

    3. Petroleum jelly and cotton swabs. While we are still enjoying nice weather now, eventually the cold will come and chapped lips will be a constant problem in the classroom. For students who forget to bring lip balm from home, keep a small container of petroleum jelly and sterile cotton swabs in your first aid kit. When a student with cracked lips comes your way, just give them a small amount of petroleum jelly on a cotton swab to keep their lips clean and moistened.

    4. Safety pins. Don’t worry, these are not for classroom surgery, but they do come in handy for fixing torn clothing that might otherwise warrant a trip to the nurse for a change of clothes. Plus, if you keep safety pins in your first aid kit, you will always be prepared in case of your own wardrobe malfunction.

    5. Extra child-sized socks. Blisters abound with cute little summer shoes. When bandages just won’t stay on, try giving a student a new pair of socks to keep the bandage in place and avoid shoe rubbing. You can get a 10-pack of kid’s socks from Walmart for $6.

     

    Passes for Nurse, Library, and Office Visits

    For all the other out-of-classroom excursions your students may have to make during the day, try using laminated or plastic dry-erase passes for flexibility. Ms. Fluger, a fourth grade teacher at my school, has bright white plastic passes that can be written on so her students can specify where they will be going. Ms. Fluger uses two passes as dedicated bathroom passes, and the other serves as a miscellaneous pass for whatever occasion may arise. I just saw this system of hers recently and I know I will be giving it a try as well!

    I hope that you now have some new ideas for organizing the in-and-out flow of students in your classrooms. Do you use a great system that I haven’t mentioned? Please leave a comment below and share it with all of us teachers. You can never have enough ideas for making your life just a bit easier!

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us