Transparency in Teaching (Stuff) Podcast

Keeping Kids in Class and out of the Nurse’s Office

keeping kids in class

If only we could just teach! How marvelous would that be? Picture your students all coming into class with their supplies ready to go, computers charged, pencils sharpened, and paper restocked in an intact working notebook. They’ve already used the restroom and blown their noses. One can dream, can’t they? But when you open your eyes from this lovely daydream, you see three hands up, one asking for a pencil, to use the restroom, or visit the nurse because they pulled on a hangnail that’s now bleeding all over their homework. If keeping kids in class is your goal, here are some items that will help.

It seems that students can devise the wiliest ways to leave the classroom, but teachers can limit their escape plans with a little advanced preparation. It’s hard to be an effective teacher if your students are not in class. Here is a host of items to help you keep your students in their seats. Full disclosure, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases you make by clicking on the links I’ve provided here. Hey, it saves you all that time searching!

One of the most asked reasons to leave the classroom is to visit the restroom. Now, of course, there is a legitimate reason to use the restroom, but often it is code for “I’m meeting my friend to talk about my other friend.” or it might be to send an anonymous reply about Johnny’s hair on Snapchat. So, it’s important to “determine” the reason.

 For example, a student approaches with a hand covered in ink, saying, “ I don’t know how it happened, but my pen somehow broke. Can I go to the bathroom to wash my hands?” You simply continue teaching and pass him a hand wipe. These go a long way for many issues. They are good for cleaning hands before using computers, after using glue sticks, and when kids come in after lunch with hands full of Flaming Hot Cheetos dust. Plus, this particular brand can also clean desks and other dirty surfaces. It’s gentle on the hands and infused with vitamin E and aloe. Win-Win. Now go back to your desk and clean up.

Keeping kids in class means keeping kids healthy. Staying with the idea of cleaning surfaces, with the cold and flu and now Covid seasons running rampant, you’ll want to clean desktops often. A less expensive wipe is great for this purpose. I hand them out to kids right before the bell rings and let them do the cleaning for me. One wipe can clean several desks. They toss the used wipes in the trash can on their way out the door.

Wipes are also great for wiping down surfaces after a rainy day schedule forces your room to become the cafeteria. I also use these to clean off my desk at the end of the day and occasionally wipe down window sills and other hard surfaces that collect dust. Unless you have an army of custodians, most don’t have time to do more than empty your trash and vacuum. Amazon’s brand works great; with a 3-pack, you’ll get 255 wipes.

No matter the season, kids have runny noses and the occasional bloody nose. For these reasons having a large supply of tissues is vital. Most schools will supply you with their version of tissue that is akin to wiping your nose with sandpaper. Being that I often need a tissue myself, I prefer to have a softer option available. Now whether you choose to share your secret stash of fluffy tissues is up to you. Perhaps the sandpapery version will discourage students from creating a need to blow their noses. (Why Lucy needs to blow her nose outside of the class four times is beyond me.) But the harsh version might instead encourage them to use their sleeves or wipe their snotty hands across the desk instead. The choice is yours. Who doesn’t know Kleenex brand tissues? This pack of 12 boxes is extra soft and extra strong.

If your school is anything like mine, your school nurse is overwhelmed. Kids get sent for the simplest reasons, many of which could be easily handled in the classroom. Keeping bandages and masks handy can mean keeping kids in class. This saves you from taking time out of your lesson to call the nurse to see if she’s busy and then write a note to send with the student. Simple things like keeping a supply of bandages and masks keep students from aimlessly wandering the hallways, and the school nurse will thank you for helping preserve her sanity. Yeah, I know these aren’t Band-Aid brands, but they are just as good, cheaper, and come with a climate-friendly pledge.

Masks have become commonplace now. Many students continue to wear a mask for different reasons. Having extras in class is great for when a student’s mask breaks or if theirs happens to get thrown away at lunch or lost during PE. I used to send kids to the office to get another mask, but after the mandate was lifted, the school stopped supplying them. Plus, there are days when my allergies are acting up, or I have a slight cold. Remember when it was no big deal to go to work with a head cold?

Nowadays, even an innocent sneeze is looked at with disdain, so having a mask handy can help put others at ease. I prefer black masks to blue ones. They just look less “medical” and seem to blend in better with what I wear. Actually, these blend in better with what kids wear nowadays, too. Everything they wear seems to be some shade of black or grey. Go figure. Having a supply of masks on hand is another way of keeping kids in class. These masks are #1 in Amazon’s medical procedure masks, and the price is right.

Cold weather can dry out lips. For some reason, my middle school students seemed to have bad bouts of chapped lips, like, I mean, like really gross. They’d ask to go see the nurse just to get Vaseline. What happened to carrying your own Chapstick? This was just another excuse my students had for taking a hike in the hallways. A colleague suggested keeping a jar of the stuff in my desk drawer along with a bunch of cotton swaps to dole it out with. Perfect! Here ya go, now go sit down. This tub will last you all year (or more)!

These cotton swabs are made of bamboo and are biodegradable. The cotton buds are made of sustainably grown, ethically harvested bamboo. They are easy on the planet, extra durable, and less prone to bending. Even the packaging is 100% recyclable and contains no plastic.

This last item is probably something only female teachers will want to have on hand. Feminine napkins. Not that male teachers couldn’t hand these out, but in today’s hyper-triggered environment, probably best left to the ladies. When I was in school, I would have been mortified to have to ask my teacher for such a product. But today, girls seem much more comfortable with that request. I think this is a step forward, as our monthly issues shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of.

Having feminine products on hand is a discrete way for female students to take care of a surprise without having to march down to the office with a note and then explain to the person at the window why they need to see the nurse. Many states have passed laws requiring free menstrual supplies to be available in female and gender-neutral bathrooms. In some states, however, these supplies must be given out by a teacher, counselor, or nurse. Check with your school district to see if there are any restrictions on the type of supply or who can give these out.

All of these goodies at the price that was current when I published this will set you back about $74.00. Much of these will last you the year and some even beyond. With these products in your class cupboard, you are keeping kids in class and diminishing their need to haunt the hallways. The school nurse will thank you!

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