A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, e-mailed me with the following:
What do you do when you need a bathroom break while you’re teaching a class? As a student, of course, I would just slip out quietly, but I can’t exactly do that when I’m leading a discussion. I also have IBS, which has happily been in a bit of remission lately, but I worry about the etiquette of that too–there are moments when my body just goes “Get up NOW” and I am not really sure how best to handle this. In a class that was two hours or more, I would probably build in a 5-minute break as a general policy, but right now I’m teaching an 80-minute class, which is exactly the wrong amount of time if you have a small bladder, as far as I’m concerned.
I thought I’d email you not just because I want your opinion, but also because I thought this might be a good question for your blog–I’m sure other academics have this problem! It can’t just be me, right?
I’m sure it’s not just her. I know this for a fact.
And here’s what you do: small group discussions. “Okay, everyone, break into groups of three or four, and take five minutes to [come up with something creative about whatever it is we're discussing]. I’ll pick a couple of groups to report when I get back.”
Convenient, simple, and almost always pedagogically appropriate.
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