Bathrooms

Masterful blog on Teach Like A Champion:

Dan Ceaser, who founded KIPP Tech Valley up here in Albany and is now the Middle School Director at Kentucky Country Day, was one of the most insightful principals I came across in seeing a school through a kid’s eyes. He recognized that kids feared and loathed the bathroom and that fearing and loathing the bathroom, often rightfully, is both inhumane -- one shouldn’t have to feel fear in a school; one shouldn’t waste energy and focus on finding a way to execute one’s biological needs—and dehumanizing—a decrepit bathroom says: “This is who we think you are.”

So Dan attacked the bathrooms with positive energy.

He pre-emptively made them warm and attractive. He put up posters on the walls; there were little rugs in front of the doors and the sinks and a soap dispenser—shaped like a football in the boys—on a small table. There were potted plants. The “this is who we think you are” message was inverted. And when kids had something to play for they respected their bathrooms.

But Dan insisted they work to keep them. He explained the “why” behind the nice bathrooms and then told them it was theirs to keep through proper bathroom behavior. If said proper behavior didn’t occur—of COURSE there were breaches; of course kids tested it–he took the nice stuff away… usually piecemeal and incrementally; sometimes completely and decisively until they earned it back. And always, even when the positives were in place, there was accountability. You signed a log when you used it with the time in and out. If something went wrong there was a finite list of leads, but usually just being accountable to sign in prevented negative behavior in the bathroom. Most of the best schools I know manage and socialize and sometimes incentivize the bathroom.

Read the whole thing.