July 2, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Hall Pass Punch Card

For the next few Tuesday Teacher Tips, I want to focus on some of my classroom management techniques that have helped me minimize distractions in the classroom.

The Hall Pass Punch Card solved three problems in my classroom:

  1. Abuse of bathroom/water breaks
  2. "Forgetting" things in lockers
  3. Tardies

You know what I'm talking about. One student asks for the bathroom pass, and it's quickly followed by a steady stream of hands asking, "Can I go next?" or "Can I get a drink?" The mere suggestion that one person might be able to leave the room seems to remind every middle school student that they would rather be wandering the halls than in the classroom.

At the beginning of each term (trimester, or quarter, depending on where I've worked), I give each student a Hall Pass Punch Card, which I print on brightly colored card stock  making it durable enough to last the tern. Students are required to write their names in pen on the cards (so they cannot be used by anyone else) and store them in their binders/pencil cases for safe keeping.

On each pass, I have a pre-determined number of icons, usually matching the school or team mascot (see example below). Each time a student needs to leave my classroom, he or she must present his pass, and I simply use my single hole puncher to mark one icon as "used." (Just make sure your icons are along the edges so your single hole punch can reach each image.)

At the end of each term, students submit their passes and receive extra credit for each unused punch.  I don't offer many extra credit options in my classroom, so this is typically a good incentive for students to use their passes wisely. I can't tell you how many times the conversation has sounded like this:

     Student: Can I use the bathroom?

     Me: Sure! Do you have your punch pass?

     Student: Never mind.

My other "favorite" thing is when students (it's always the same students, over and over) "forget" mandatory items in their lockers (because they're too busy socializing). Sometimes I make them do the lesson without the item, but if it's something they truly need, I make them use their punch pass to retrieve it. This has worked tremendously well in teaching my students to be prepared for class.

Finally, and I've only had to use this for one class, I use the punch card as a tardy consequence. If students are not in their assigned seats when the final bell rings, I simply walk around with my hole puncher and ask for their passes. It's actually pretty hilarious to watch them all scramble to their seats just as the bell begins to ring. And you know they are more than happy to rat each other out! It's a guaranteed laugh every single day! :)

So, what happens when the student is out of passes? It's simple: they can't go! Some students will use up their card in the first few weeks of the term and learn this the hard way, but I promise they are much more thoughtful about it for the next term. If it's a real emergency, of course, I let them go with a stern warning that they are losing participation points. Truthfully, I never waste my time keeping track of this, but my students don't need to know that!

This is easily a task that can be given to a responsible student as a class job if it's not something you want to deal with. Or, if your students are trustworthy, you can use the honor system and keep the hole punch near the door for each student to access as needed.


  1. Great idea! I am definitely going to incorporate this next year!

    Crofts' Classroom

  2. LOVE this! I use tickets, but I hate it when a kid gets one from another student and uses it.

  3. Great idea! I just might have to "borrow" this one. I hate losing class time to students who are constantly forgetting things!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  4. SUCH a great idea. My one question is about the kid who loses his card and comes in tardy. Do you prepunch the NEXT card he gets?
    And the idea of using the mascot or paw prints is a great pride builder. =)

  5. I use the spiral notecards. Then when they ask to go to the bathroom ect. I just pick up the classes set and turn to the students card and punch a hole. This way I don't have to wait for the student to get out their pass and it doesn't disrupt my instructional time.

  6. This is such a good idea! I'm definitely going to use it if I ever get a teaching job.

  7. This is a GREAT idea - but, unfortunately, not for my school. This would send them into an additional uproar! I wish I could figure something out for an urban school environment.

    1. To be completely honest, I worked in a setting where this punch card would certainly not work. That year, I just hung a bathroom pass by the door next to a small white board. If the pass was there, students were allowed to take it and go; they just had to sign their names on the board so I knew who was out. And they were only allowed to go during independent work time so they didn't miss any instruction.