A response to readers: Adults outside of education often think that students should be allowed to go to the bathroom whenever those students say they need to go. It’s important to understand, though, that some students will go every single hour of the day if allowed, once per class. They build the bathroom request into the hour as their own personal break. I suspect a few students would be happy to spend the whole day in the bathroom.
In terms of learning, if the student is allowed to leave during a lecture, other students will want to leave during the lecture, resulting in explanations of new material that are peppered with multiple bathroom requests, enough to break the flow in the presentation of the material. They can’t just go. Students need a bathroom pass. Writing or endorsing that pass takes time.
Students can’t learn new material while in the bathroom, either. If two or more students go at the same time, all sorts of problems may be created as they put on make-up, socialize and just generally blow off class. Girls are more trouble than boys, too. When they trot out the time-of-the-month excuse, teachers tend to roll over without further comment. Male teachers, in particular, may drop the subject of those lost 10 – 15 minutes of class time like a hot potato.
My current policy is simple. Bathroom breaks are not permitted while I am speaking or while other students are presenting an idea. If we do classwork and if a student shows me that they are making good progress on that classwork, then I will let them go.