Bathroom Status: Under Control

Two things that no one tells you about teaching: keeping up with your kids and dealing with the bathroom is HARD.

You know it’s harder than it sounds to keep track of your students.  When I taught third and fourth grade, I had two sections with 22 kids each.  People were going to the restroom, the nurse, the library, tutoring, speech, dyslexia intervention, etc. all day long.  That's a lot of coming and going to keep track of and, say, teach at the same time.  However, “umm” is not a very professional answer to “Where is little Johnny right now?”

I also realized I did not care when my kids went to the bathroom.  As long as it wasn’t the middle of a lesson and they weren’t working with a group/partner, it was good.  The only problem is it can’t be good for 14 kids at the same time.

Tired of managing your students' restroom breaks?  Use this chart and some simple ground rules to free yourself from ever hearing, “May I go to the bathroom” again!

After 400 years of teaching (at least it felt that way), I was able to solve both problems with a simple bathroom rule and a chart.

Here’s a picture of my Where Are You? chart in my old classroom:
Tired of managing your students' restroom breaks?  Use this chart and some simple ground rules to free yourself from ever hearing, “May I go to the bathroom” again!

Each student had a class number.  You could put names, but I had two sections and that’s what worked for me.  The last two boxes were the most important: Restroom/Water Girl and Restroom/Water Boy.  Going somewhere? Move your magnet.  Back? Move your magnet.  The end.

I cannot tell you how much easier this made my life.  I could keep track of my people without the constant bathroom/water questions.

When I made my chart, I knew all my Type A friends were going to want to make one that exactly fit their needs AND their classroom theme.  Put up a hot pink and turquoise chart in your super hero themed room?  HECK NO.  (Type B friends-I know you’re laughing at us right now.)

Tired of managing your students' restroom breaks?  Use this chart and some simple ground rules to free yourself from ever hearing, “May I go to the bathroom” again!

You can buy the editable chart here.  There are different layouts with different numbers of boxes.  You can edit the text, fonts, and colors of the grid and background.  There are even a couple of options for background patterns.  I had it printed on 11x17 glossy card stock at Office Max for about $1.50.

As long as you feel comfortable working in PowerPoint, this should be good for you.  I even made a video on how to make the changes.
Tired of managing your students' restroom breaks?  Use this chart and some simple ground rules to free yourself from ever hearing, “May I go to the bathroom” again!

In the spirit of honesty, here are some things that take time to workout:

•You tell students the bathroom rule, but they don’t believe you.

If your kids have never walked out of the room without checking with a teacher, they’re not sure that you’re really telling the truth.  Here’s a chart you can download to send them to.  DON’T TELL THEM THE ANSWER.  They will keep asking your for the next 179 days.  Lovingly tell them to check the rule chart to see if it’s a good time.  Here’s one you can download for free:
Tired of managing your students' restroom breaks?  Use this chart and some simple ground rules to free yourself from ever hearing, “May I go to the bathroom” again!

•Kids come back from the restroom but don’t put their magnet back.

It takes a little time for this to become a habit.  Plus, there is no rage like a nine year old who has been waiting to go to the restroom when she could have gone 10 minutes ago.  Your students will pretty much solve that problem for you.

•You put your magnets in a color pattern.  Someone changes them everyday.

Give up.  I am a super observant person.  My students swapped their magnets out ALL THE TIME, and I never saw one kid do it.  I had to let go on this one.

•But it’s an emergency.

You know what?  Sometimes it is.  But sometimes kids want to go to the bathroom 47 times a day.  If I feel like someone is taking advantage of the system, I gently pull them aside and share my concern  that here may be something wrong if you need to go to the restroom four times in an hour.  I also let them know if it keeps happening, I may need to call mom about getting you to the doctor to make sure nothing is wrong.  That usually takes care of it, though I have had called home two or three times to share my medical concerns.

**Don’t just blow off avoidance though.   Sometimes it is as simple as I don’t feel like doing this assignment or they’re just drunk on new bathroom freedom.  Often, there are some bigger academic or behavioral issues that this is a symptom of.  Solve the bathroom problem but also address the source of these kids' needs.

Got any bathroom management tips for me?  I’d love to hear them!

Save Your Sanity This School Year

It’s back to school time! Probably my favorite time of the school year.  That glow quickly fades when you get slapped punched in the face with the brutal routine that is ten months of our lives.  And you know what?  When your life is ruled by stress and exhaustion, your teaching is going to suffer.  Here are a few tips sorted by costliness (because hey-we’re teachers, money is a real thing.)

Sanity saving tips for teachers.  Make the school year a little less crazy with these 8 tips.

Who doesn’t love free???  You know what’s free?

Saying no.

I have done this a million times--said yes to things that I did not have the time, energy, or mental resources to manage.  Only when I was running around like a lunatic trying to take care of these things and realized that my family completely hated me because of it did I learn to say no.
Before you say yes (which we all want to do because we want everyone to love us), ask yourself what  the cost is at home.  Then decide if it’s worth it.  I’m not saying you should say no to everything, but be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it and what the cost is to you, your sanity, and your family.

Stop Talking

Y’all, I am a talker.  I know some of you are like me, and some of you are trying to avoid the me’s of the world, so you can get stuff done.  Whichever camp you live in, grab this sign, shut the door, get stuff done, and go home at a decent time.

Sorry! I Can’t Chat.  Print this freebie, hang it on your door, get stuff done.

A cooked chicken

Um, okay.  Seriously, though, you need to have a go to dinner.  Rotisserie chickens are my best friend on crazy days.  My husband travels a good bit, so on days when my he’s gone and my life is only going to get crazier AFTER I leave school, I go for the chicken.
There is a Whole Foods across the street from my school.  I can grab a cooked chicken, some potatoes, and a veggie easy peasy.  It’s a little more than if you were going to cook a normal dinner yourself but the same or even less than eating out.

p.s. Do my kids get tired of this meal?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  It is my duty to provide them with a healthy meal, and that is where my responsibility ends.

A Teacher Shirt

When you’re having a jeans and t-shirt kind of morning, but it’s actually a school day, these are perfect.  It’s a t-shirt, but it’s professional, y’all.  Throw it on with some black pants, and you’re good to go.  You’re not slacking, you are fully embracing your career through clothing choices.

I love this one from Cents of Style:

Buy it on TPT

I know it adds up, and you could make it yourself (maybe?), and it would probably be amazing.  Or you could buy it on Teachers Pay Teachers and then catch up on The Real Housewives.  Which one sounds more relaxing?

A Charger

Nothing’s worse than getting to school with 10% left on your phone.  Extra bonus?  You’re going to be someone else’s hero when they get to school with a dead battery.  Go ahead and upgrade and get the extra long charger (you’ll thank me later).

Something stupid that makes you happy

I’m pretty sure teachers spend more waking hours at school than at home.  It’s definitely true at the beginning of the school year.  It’s not your home away from home-it is your home.  Several years ago I splurged on this chair from World Market and never regretted it.  It was cute, super comfortable, and reminded me of the good old days when teachers got real chairs.  (Anybody else fighting for a plastic chair that is padded and rolls?  It’s the holy grail of elementary school.)
As much as I love this chair, I can’t find any decent pictures of it, and World Market no longer sells it.

I’m not saying buy a chair, but if there is something that’s been in the back of your mind, just do it.  You spend a ton of time in your room.  Make it your happy place.

HP Insta Ink

The best invention EVER.  All of us have been there-printing something late at night (or in the morning) for school, and you run out of ink.  The Worst.  This might cost a little more at first, but if you wait until you need to buy ink, it almost pays for itself.  I bought mine when I needed new color and black ink cartridges.  I spent about $100 on a new printer instead of $70 on ink.  It’s even cheaper on Amazon now.

How does it work?  You sign up for HP Insta Ink and pick your plan.  Your printer is synced with your HP Insta Ink account.  When you start to get low-ish, HP sends you more ink before you even need it.

I have the $4.99 plan for 100 pages a month.  It doesn’t matter if your print in black or color.  You could print 100 pages of borderless, full page color, and you aren’t charged any extra.  If you go over your plan, they just charge you whatever your per page price is plus a penny.  For $60 a year, I never run out of ink and (more importantly) never have to call a neighbor at 10:00 at night so one of my kids can print a school project.

{Sign up here and get a free month.  At least I think so.  That’s what my HP account said would happen if I shared this link.  Let me know if it doesn’t work.}

I hope you have a great back to school season! What are your favorite sanity saving tips?

**This post contains affiliate links.**

August Desktop Calendar

Happy August to you!  August is always a bittersweet month.  The excitement of a new school year is here, but it also means it’s time to say good buy to spending the lazy days of summer with my girls.

Here’s a dreamy background for your computer.  I love these graphics from Eisfrei.  The fonts are from my FAVORITE font bundle by Nicky Laatz.  Click here or on the image to download.

Happy August!