I'm beginning to hate the word. I don't care why you're not here, I just wish you were.
It's an epidemic here. Students who had 90 percent attendance were honored at last year's awards ceremony. (For any nonmath people, that's rewarding students who missed a day every two weeks.) As the first semester ends, I have multiple students with 20+ absences. They've already missed a month of school.
For today, I'm not worried about how to change that behavior. Though, if you have suggestions I'd love to hear them. I want ideas on how to welcome students back.
What I'm Doing to Cope with Absences
A list of various techniques in no particular order.
- Using an adaption of Dan's concept quiz system. You need to know the material. I don't need you to make up every worksheet.
- Providing two nights to complete "homework" assignments.
- Listing all assignments on GCal. (So that I can see what you missed when you return. Few students have access to internet.)
- Maintaining a filing system where for notes. Students are supposed to go to the folder and find anything they are missing. (Often we work on one set of handouts for two days.) They ask a friend for help or come in for...
- Tutoring after school. Or before school if you make sure I know you're coming in. Or during lunch if you let me know in advance*.
- Sending work home. I'm not as proactive on this as I aspire to be. But I try to have something ready for students coming by with an advanced makeup slip. Seen one student actually do the work.
- Trying to remind students of what they missed. While they're doing warm-up journals I try to visit with everyone. It's a brief chat, but hopefully allows me to tell them I missed them, find out why they were absent, and let them know what we did.
Some students do not need to be in school everyday. One of my top students was dropped over the weekend. It doesn't change the fact that he's aced all the concepts.
But most students aren't that lucky. When they miss school, they fall behind. They don't know what's going on, feel dumb, won't try the next assignment, don't learn it, miss more school... Vicious, vicious cycle.
I hope this isn't as big of an issue elsewhere. But I know very few people make it though a year with perfect attendance. What strategies work for you to help students get back to class? Thanks for any inspiration.
*The last one is rare because by that point in the day I really do need to go to the restroom/microwave food/visit with other teachers for support.