Restroom Use and Hall Passes
The last of the issues that you will commonly deal with in class are restroom use and other hall passes. Most schools prohibit students from wandering around campus, which is quite understandable. Therefore, school-wide hall passes are usually circulated. You should fill out a hall pass for each student leaving your classroom. That way, if an administrator or another teacher stops a student, they can see exactly where she came from and where she is heading.
It is up to you as a teacher to decide exactly how to handle requests to use the bathroom. Restroom use is a sticky issue. On one hand, you do not want to keep a student who really has to go. On the other hand, this privilege is easily abused. A good policy is to allow any student to use the restroom. If you feel that a student is abusing the restroom privileges, then you should discuss it with administration and the student's parents. Usually, this problem can be solved through quick intervention.
A big problem that results from allowing all students to use the restroom when they need it is that it can quickly become disruptive. There is nothing worse than holding a discussion and having a student raise his hand only to discover he wants to go to the bathroom. It is perfectly acceptable to require students to wait until you are at your desk or not addressing the entire class to ask to use the restroom. Of course, if you're aware that a student has a medical problem, then you should allow that student to have a special restroom pass for emergencies.
Finally, realize that with younger children the urge to go to the bathroom is often ignored until the last minute. If you are teaching kindergarten or first grade, it might be a good idea to have at least an extra pair of underwear and pants for a boy and a girl so that you are prepared if an accident should occur.
Hall passes are different from restroom passes. Most schools do not want students randomly walking through the halls. You should strictly limit hall passes to emergencies or to circumstances in which students are required to visit the office or the guidance counselor. Liability is the main issue here.
If a student leaves your class without a good reason and gets hurt or does something that is illegal, the administration will question you and your methods. You might even be subject to lawsuits if you are proved negligent.
In elementary schools, typically you will want to pair up students when you send them out of the classroom. Try to think about student personalities when you send them out together so that at least one of the students is more responsible. Further, make sure that they understand where they are going and how quickly you expect them to return.
In high school, you should allow only one student out of your classroom at any time. Some schools allow you to create a standard hall pass — possibly a wooden one or some other “permanent” pass with your name and your class on it. That ensures that only one student leaves the class at a time. However, this is not acceptable at all schools, so make sure it is at yours before you construct one for yourself.