Teaching Tips – Taking Attendance

It’s something you have got to do, in most classes. It takes up time, it’s a cause for embarrassment if you get a name wrong, and it sets the tone for what you have on the plate for your class that day.

So, how do you take attendance and not make it a waste of time?

Taking Classroom Attendance

Most classes begin with taking attendance. It can be a time-consuming, often overly so, task. It can also be a cause of embarrassment for the student or the teacher.

If you have big classes, this also may be the only time there is a real one-to-one conversation going on between the teacher and the student.

So, what to do with this beast? How can you use this time-killer to your advantage? How can you get students to understand it’s importance?

Glad you asked.

First, even if your grades don’t reflect this, stress to your students the importance of good attendance, and of keeping a good record of attendance.

I often use this shopping analogy when I talk about attendance and participation in class.

Ask the students if they have ever gone to a department store, picked out something they liked, wanted, or needed, took it to the cash register, paid for it, and then said, “Thank you” and intentionally walked off and left the item behind?

If they understand your story, they should all answer quickly, and with a laugh, “Zero!”

You answer, “Of course not. Even if you were shopping with money from your parents you wouldn’t even consider doing this.”

“But in a way,” you say, “When you sign up for this class, pay your money, or your parents pay, or even on a scholarship, and then don’t attend, you are doing that exact same thing.”

Tell them, “I know you are all smart shoppers.”

This always works for me.

Here are 4 tips for taking attendance:

1. First read over the names until you can say them clearly. Do this before meeting the class. You still might not get them all correctly, but it will increase your chances.

2. Tell the students that if there name is mispronounced to please let you know and that you want to know how to say their name properly.

3. Have them answer clearly in a way you define, ie Yes, here. (More on this in a moment.)

4. When you finish, count heads. This is especially important when you have large classes. This also re-enforces your statement that you are serious about keeping good attendance records.

Here are a few ways to spruce this up a bit.

1. Write a short phrase on the board. For example, “The weather is great today!” Have the students repeat it together a couple of times to make sure they’ve all got it. Then tell them to answer with this phrase when you call their name. You can use key phrases from the day’s lessons, longer, shorter phrases, whatever suits your situation.

2. Take attendance with a quiz! Be sure to count heads though to make sure you collect the proper number of papers and that you didn’t miss anyone or that no one is ‘answering for a friend.’

3. Have each student stand, say their name and a short statement. For example you might use: “My name is Mari, my favorite color is blue.” where students repeat the same phrase changing only the color. You can also use food, movies, singers, or songs.

Just remember to use a different phrase or a different method or you will soon find you are right back in the same old ‘taking attendance rut.’

About the author:
Allen Williams is a professional educator, speaker, and writer. You can find out more of what he is up to by visiting:
http://www.tcobag.com kNow Thinking Aloud
— or —
http://www.powermeup.com Personal and Professional Growth

So, you want some tips on writing?

Here’s a rough, on the fly response to this question I received from a colleague and friend recently:

Where do you want to start? Articles? That seems like it might be easier to
get around on, short, one topic, end it.

If you want to start there you could try the basic 5 part essay approach.
This ‘theme’ works in an expanded way so that you could just keep repeating
the process to infinity, adding related ‘5 parts’ till you had a book 🙂

You’ll find this is just like public speaking, when done correctly.

Basics would be:
decide purpose
1. intro
Pa. support idea/examples
Pb. support idea/examples
Pc. support idea/examples
3. Conclusion

A little more detail . . .

1. intro: get the readers attention, show them what you’re going to write
about, give background if necessary start general and work your way to the
That is, talk about computers used to take up whole buildings, whole floors
of buildings, then one room, then they were in a corner, then they were
desktops, then they were laptops, now they’re implanted under your skin.

Getting attention:
1. questions, open-ended, or you know what the answer will be, yes or no,
Have you ever been stopped by the police in your car? Have you ever been
shopping downtown? kinds of things, pulls them right in, they gotta say yes,
and then wonder what you’re up to, hehheh.
2. tell a story
3. quote somebody
4. background, history
5. statistics (trick with stats is to ‘relate the figures’ ie 430
yards=almost 4 and a half football fields kind of thing)

Giving examples/support: be specific whenever possible

Conclusion: restate your main idea, summarize your points, leave ’em with a
question, or ask them to take action etc

See, you already know that stuff, right?

Want ideas for writing?

Ask and answer the questions that come to you.


Then, check it.

Is the idea you want to write about stated clearly?
Do you have in place an attention getter?
(End the intro with the main idea you want to cover.)

Do you have enough supporting details? Are they specific?

Conclusion? Restated the main points? Left them something to do or to think

Spellcheck it and let it rip 🙂

Check out this article I wrote recently:

It’s not exactly this pattern, but you’ll see it fits fairly closely. I
don’t think about that part any more, just do, like my bad golf swing,

Put your character, your voice into it, make it appropriate for the audience
you’re aiming for though, geez, I know you’ve got this stuff from speaking,
just transfer it here 🙂

You can start with brainstorming, free-writing, journaling, mind
mapping/clustering, too to get your ideas down, choose the ones that look
like you’ve got enough info to go on.

I think at our life stage though, that doing the question/response thing to
get ideas down on ‘paper’ is great and effective and efficient (Gary Halbert line stealing there, sorry).

You might also try the hard way 🙂

Get an idea, get your mic, record the stuff, transcribe it, then edit it.
I’ve also done that, a lot before, more for music ideas/song lyrics
‘in-the-flow’ type of writing, but it works either way.

Need more? I skimmed over something? Didn’t make sense?

What is possible?

Just look at what you can do . . .

People ask me all the time, what kind of site, what kinds of things, can I do on the internet?

This question never ceases to amaze me, nor does the incredible number of possibilities.

There are so many ideas that you can use to build your site around.

And Yes, there are a ton of sites already out there.

What you need to do is find a way to make your site, like you 🙂 No, no, not boring, balding, and belly-widening, that’s like me, I mean


Here’s a great example of taking offline ideas and implementing them into online ideas.

It’s also a great way to spend some time, so don’t read the rest of this if you’re in a big hurry to get things done 🙂

Here’s a site that uses digital photos to make jigsaw puzzles, online, and you can do them right there.

This link will take you to a puzzle I had made from a photo my wife and I took on a recent trip to Korea. It’s a picture of the most famous temple in South Korea, the oldest still operating one as well if I recall correctly.

The name of the temple is Bulguksa (“sa” here means “temple” so it’s a bit redundant to say Bulguksa temple, but I see this a lot on maps and brochures. I’ll save that rant and explanation for another time. Lucky you, hehheh). It’s located in Kyungju, the ancient capitol city of Korea.

It’s a well-made site, it’s light and fast, and it shows you just how you can utilize offline interests for your online endeavors.


TCOBaG – Drinking and Riding Your Bicycle

Drinking and riding your bicycle is a fairly serious offense in Japan.

It seems odd to me, that in Japan, there are some fairly stiff penalties for riding your bike after drinking.

At the same time, bicycle theft, while illegal, borders on socially acceptable. Umbrellas tend to fall into the same category. That is, fair game when left unguarded and there’s a downpour on.

Maybe you don’t find that interesting.

What does this have to do with marketing? With anything? . . .

Just made me stop and think that there are many things that we often take for granted. We (yeah, I’m talking to you, and me) forget that in different places, the rules, the way of doing things, well, they’re just different.

The key here for me was the idea that you don’t really have to go to another country to find yourself facing these sorts of issues.

You need only walk out of your own abode.

The rules are different.

Are you using the same language, same tactics, layouts and colors even, to promote your sites or products to different markets?

You just stepped outside your abode, my friend.

You gotta know your market, the way they walk, the way they talk, what they think is the right, or wrong way for doing things.

The rules and even the game can be very different.

Ever watch an international basketball game? Different, isn’t it? What’s with those lanes anyway?

Football? Be careful there. Has a different meaning, especially here. In Japan, football is soccer.

It also means that terms, phrases and expressions that you might think are common knowledge and in regular use may have some differences. Those differences may range from slight to might.

Know the rules, and the way the game is played before you put up your hand and start jumping up and down yelling, “pick me! pick me!”