Now that it is early November, back-to-school is officially over. My students have forgotten their beginning of year jitters, their supplies are unpacked and labeled, and our classroom is fully in motion.
With the first leg of the school year behind us, I am able to turn my focus from setting up our classroom procedures to other aspects of my teaching practice. After a summer interning at Kinvolved, I want to use attendance data to its fullest potential in my third grade classroom this year.
Using Attendance Trends in My Classroom
Teaching in a high-need school in Newark, I often find that attendance data is skewed. While a handful of my students have near-perfect attendance, and most of them have normal attendance rates, about 20 percent of the 40 third graders I educate are consistently absent.
For this group of students, the obstacles that keep them out of school include moving shelters and insecure housing, a Sickle cell disease that keeps one student at doctors’ appointments more than he is in my classroom, and a caretaker whose ability to walk her student to school is occasionally dependent on the weather forecast.
Tracking this attendance data helps inform the interventions I use to get my students to class. Some targeted interventions include: creating a calendar to share assignments and deadlines that coincide with doctors’ appointments with the parent of my student who has Sickle cell disease, or calling the father of a student who moves between harmony houses to ensure the flow of communication remains strong between us.
Regardless of their absence rates, my third grade students are generally not responsible for their presence or absence in class. Leveraging attendance data helps parents recognize how their student’s attendance can affect their performance in school.
Helping Absent Students Make Up Missed Work
Many teachers have procedures built into their classrooms to account for missed work. My classroom this year relies on these systems. Students can access missed work from folders in the back of the room. They have “absence buddies” who help them in the next day’s lesson when they require prior knowledge from the previous day. I check in with them frequently to make sure they’re caught up. Noting their absences when I analyze exit tickets and unit tests often helps illuminate the gaps.
Scholastic: Getting Assignments to Absent Students
With my consistently absent students, it becomes trickier to intervene. Last year, I often found myself in marathon tutoring sessions trying to catch them up.
This year, attendance-driven classroom procedures help support my one-on-one interventions. Absence buddies are a successful resource for my consistently absent students. And, now that I have begun to track my whole class attendance data, I use the days when the largest percentages of students are absent as a guide for spiral reviews.
My focus on attendance data this year has provided a foundation for strong communication with parents, offered a closer look into the lives of my students, and been useful in creating guidelines for interventions. I am interested to see how these procedures support my classroom and in refining these practices as the year continues.
Michele Narov worked as a Kinvolved Summer Business Development Associate. She is a Teach For America corps member, and serves as a third grade math and science teacher at Camden Street Elementary School in Newark, NJ.