When they ask at the same time, it easy to recognise what they are doing and put an end to it. When they ask consecutively, it’s harder to notice and sometimes you don’t until you do a head count and realise that 2 girls are missing, or two boys are missing during the afternoon register.
When I’m actually paying full attention to my surroundings whilst, simultaneously, devoting my full attention to a nearby child/group who needs my guidance during a learning activity, I will announce that it would be a bad idea to do that and name the children, glance at them and continue supporting my group. (Admittedly, this only happened once and the classroom was so quite, you could hear the class next door.) The two girls looked embarrassed and decided against skipping the lesson to have a private chat in the toilets. I felt like a powerful empress in my classroom. I’d prevented an unnecessary misdemeanour before it had even been implemented.
With my current class, they will ask together, usually. There is one boy in my class who has a friend in another class and somehow he and the friend seem to end up in the toilet at the same time. Strange that isn’t it?! So now I keep an eye on the door that leads to the cloakroom and toilets. Why? Because I once other boy looking through the window. He saw me and went into the toilets, then I counted to 6, before the boy in my class found me and asked if he could go to the toilet. I said he could go, if he could promise me his friend wouldn’t be in their right now. So he looked at me, suspiciously, for a moment and said he could wait a little while. And he did, until the end of the school day.
There is also a little group of girls who will ask me if they can go to the toilet one after the other. I cottoned on pretty quickly with this one last year when their entire table was left with just one boy on it within the first week. My TA found all 4 girls chatting in the toilets and folding paper towels on the wall… now, when they ask me, I make them wait until the last one has returned and they form a tag team. One in, one out. Even though I do this, they still try to go all at once.
How? By asking another adult in the room, if I say they need to wait. Luckily, I have a great TA who sings from the same hymn sheet automatically and gives them the same answer as me. If they do it the other way round, ask her first, she makes them wait so they ask me instead, there is a slight chance I am saying yes to another child and they take that as their yes answer to go. Sneaky little blighters.
Meerkat plays this trick very well. He will ask me a question at the same time as another child and when I say yes to the other child, he accepts my yes as his answer too, so when he returns I’ve had no idea he’s been to the toilets and question who he asked. Obviously, he says me and I have no recollection of it. He assures me he did ask me so then I begin to question my sanity. One day, I asked him when he asked me if he could go to the toilets, on instinct more than anything else, and he immediately replied when Joe Bloggs asked you if he could sharpen his pencil…ah! I realised his game and made a mental note to be more Jedi within the classroom. So now, he needs to make sure I am looking directly at him when he asks the question and I say his name after I say yes so he knows the yes is for him…
So our new class rule is…that if you ask the teacher a question, like “Could I go to the toilet please?” – she needs to say yes or no and your name so you that know that the answer is for you. The Oracle has struggled to grasp this rule yet and has taken it upon himself to disregard it at all opportunities…😩 there’s always one!