Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Nathan sneaks in about fifteen seconds after the bell.  He's never been tardy before.

I start class, then walk over to him and whisper, "Did you have a pass?  Why were you late?"

He looks up at me--huge brown eyes shining--and says, "30 seconds.  I had to go to the bathroom."

"Oh!" I whispered.  "I forgot!"

When a building is under construction, choices have to be made.  I have always been a teacher that trusts kids until they give me a reason not to, and construction has sealed this in my philosophy.  It is hard to live and work and learn in a dusty, loud space.  Our kids have handled it remarkably.

They shut down the restrooms in our hall this week, which means the nearest restrooms are a crowded locker bank and at least a minute away.  Our students have four minutes to pass to the next class.  Nathan's class falls at a notorious time of day--just enough time after lunch--when at least six kids have to use the restroom at the beginning of class.  Of course, our rules dictate that they may only leave class two times per quarter in order to use the restroom, so they must check in at the beginning of class and rush away.

I told this group of students yesterday there was no way that we could keep up the check-in system.  I said, "I'll give you thirty seconds after the bell, but use the restroom on your way. No more check in and run to the bathroom." 

 Of course a bunch of silly questions ensued: "What if we don't go the bathroom?  How will you know?"

I responded the best way I knew.  "I trust you.  I trust that you won't take advantage of my kindness and you will do the right thing, only being tardy if you need to go."

All but one of my students were in class, on time, when the bell rang.  I am glad I choose humanity.

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