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

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