Here's what I've tried, and it often works:
1. Post an attendance graph and place benchmarks along the way for each student (e.g., "First 50 Days, Treat Day!, Homework Free Mark).
2. Keep in touch with parents and inform them of your instructional schedule, as needed. Remind them that attendance is key to success.
3. Administer lots of short quizzes that guarantee a high rate of success. (My kids hated missing any test where they knew they'd succeed.)
4. Communicate your expectations, periodically, to both students and parents. Don't assume that attendance is valued by all. Sometimes, you have to bring the value.
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I think you first need to assess what is the fundamental reason behind the general attendance issue.Some things can be out of your hands to correct.
Is it largely due to a migrant working community?
Is it a class with a significant special needs population? Is there a socio-economic division that impacts a portion of your community negatively?
What is the home structure support like? If the parents do not have a background reflective of the insight gained thru formalized and continuing education, they might not see value in encouraging their own children's progress in school. Therefore, you will need to plan outreach and buy-in.
Is there a cultural bias that's influencing your outcomes?
Or are they embarrassed due some previous experiences or maybe EL issues?
Perhaps there's limits to the supports they have access to...sometimes our secondary learners find it easier to cop out, than rise up...
How about even basic issues, like transportation and translation?.
Hetrogenius peer learning teams is an excellent method for bringing up self-esteem, pride, accomplishment, and leadership in some of these scenarios. Grouping them in groups of 4, with 1 high, 1 low, and 2 mid-lower students and tagging them with responsibility to contribute, encouraging them with profound praise , and re-enforcing the desirable behavior while clearly linking the success to the attendance for students will help them make that connection. [Look how well i do when im here...]. It is important in these groups to keep the flow of ideas, collaboration, production, and prduct flowing. You will have to take on more of the roll of facilitator, rather than teacher.
Dont focus on equity or fair distribution of work initially. Your high learner will be looking for more to do anyways. All ideas are welcome and treated as a safe place to share ideas. Just because the level of work to each student isnt equitable or at the same level should never be the focus. In fact, what job in life is our work distributed equally, recognized equally, contributed equally, or even collaborated equally?. And where in life will our students perform a job alone? So the reality is, that future success in employment is tied to two very basic and critical skills: Attendance and ability to work cohesively in groups, tolerating all personality types and abilities.
Peer Learning groups is an excellent resource, if groups are put together properly and with thought. Distributions of all learning levels from highs to lows is a key element. Clustering will not produce what you are looking for in raising attendance. This model is inclusive in that it re-enforces mastery while drawing on a secondary, yet more critical skill in a higher learning plane necessary in the community and beyond:. And that is tolerance, compassion, critical thinking, and acceptance.
If you can get the groups working regularly long term, supporting each other, helping each other genuinely, while creating a safe and rewarding environment free of judgement, you will find the average kid not attending because he "hates school" will drop significantly.
Groups should be rewarded for attendance, but not punished due to circumstances beyond their control.
Like i said, assess the factors inhibiting the attendance first and most importantly.
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