Throughout high school, one can expect to have teachers who have a variety of different policies when it comes to food and using the bathroom. On one side of the spectrum are the teachers who are very open with their students’ freedom to run to the bathroom whenever they need to.
The other teachers prohibit or limit such actions, citing them as a distraction to the class. For the everyday student, the preference seems obvious. However, there is a caveat. Many of the teachers who restrict bathroom usage offer hall passes as extra credit. This means that if a student turns in their hall passes at the end of the semester, they will receive extra credit or bonus points to boost their grade.
For students whose grades are on the border, extra credit is key to giving them some cushion room on the day of the final. The addition of the extra credit works as an incentive for students to come to class with all their materials, and keeps them from missing valuable class time using the bathroom or getting food.
I had a pretty rough experience with the hall pass system junior year. I had Spanish 5 and Honors Chemistry my 7th and 8th hour. This meant that it was challenging to use the bathroom during the last ninety minutes of the day. Generally, this would lead to me drinking less water so that my urge to use the bathroom would dissipate. However, I have a sport every season of the year (fall, winter, spring) which makes a lack of water right before practice pretty devastating.
In the fall and the spring, I run cross country and track. Running and sweating out in the hot sun after school demands proper hydration in order to run the workout well. While it seems unlikely that ninety minutes of little water would really make a difference, I can firsthand attest that those two classes before practice are very important in terms of hydration.
I swim during the winter and the sport of swimming also demands very persistent hydration. Practices are up to two and a half hours long and, while many don’t know it, a swimmer is constantly sweating in the pool. Cramps are very common if a swimmer is not hydrating properly, and it is very important to be drinking water regularly throughout the day in order to set oneself up for success at practice and at meets.
Although technically I was allowed to get water, the fear of losing extra credit points by sacrificing a hall pass deterred me from ever leaving the class. While it worked well to keep me from leaving the classroom, I think that my practices would have been much more successful had I been able to leave the classroom whenever I needed to. It was very uncomfortable not being able to use the bathroom when I had to or get water when I was dehydrated. This led to more distraction from class than the distraction of getting up and leaving the class for a few minutes to use the bathroom. I appreciate the incentive that teachers give students to stay in class; however, in my case, the system did not work well for me.
I agree with the ideology that Ms. Joseph followed in my AP Comp class. She was very open to the students going out to use the bathroom or grab food because she believes that the students will do their best work if they aren’t distracted by hunger or needing to use the bathroom. I also agree that the better the student is feeling (proper nutrition, hydration, and freedom to use the bathroom), the better they will perform in class. They will be more energized if they are allowed to get food, more attentive if they are well-hydrated, and much more focused if they don’t have to struggle with using the bathroom.