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Classroom Management: Non Verbal Hand Signals

October 10, 2016 2 min read

Classroom Management: Non Verbal Hand Signals

October 10, 2016 2 min read

One of my biggest pet peeves is when our class is in the midst is a brilliant class discussion, and a student raises their hand … I call on them thinking more brilliance is about to be shared, and they ask, “Can I go to the bathroom?” My immediate thought, NOOOOO!!
So, to cut back big time on the bathroom and water questions, I simply have my students use hand signals.

If they want to get a drink of water, they point ONE finger toward the classroom door, wait for me to look at them and nod, then they get up, grab the Hall Pass (pictured below) and go get water.

If a student has to use the restroom, they point TWO fingers toward the classroom door, wait for me to look at them and nod, then they get up, grab either the Boy’s Pass or the Girl’s Pass (pictured below), leave their individual bathroom pass (they only get two a trimester) and $5 (our classroom economy policiy) on my desk, and go out to use the restroom.

Students know that if any of the passes are not hanging up (hall pass, boy’s pass, or girl’s pass), they are not allowed to leave until that student comes back. Only one student is allowed to leave at a time from our classroom.

It’s quite simple and easy. What I love about this method is that there are NO MORE class interruptions for someone to use the restroom! I don’t have students coming up to me, following me around the classroom asking to go get water, or any other kind of disruption.

How do you have your students leave your classroom to use the restroom or get water? We’d love to know! Share with us in the comments below or send us an email at

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Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

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