Attendance is a big issue, both at my school and generally in Baltimore City Public Schools. For several years, I’ve wanted to give out perfect attendance awards. I’ve admired the certificates given out by another teacher; I’ve thought about how they could help improve attendance as positive reinforcement (instead of only the negative: sending letters home to students who have missed an excessive number of days); I’ve intended to begin creating and passing out similar certificates. But every time the end of the month rolls around there’s always something more urgent on my plate and I let go of the idea.
This year, I finally followed through and gave out perfect attendance certificates (and a snack) to students who had perfect attendance for the entire month of September. And, even though grading and entering grades delayed it for a bit, I gave out October’s perfect attendance awards today (two more than in September! – a tiny bit of circumstantial evidence that it may be working).
One student let out an excited shout upon seeing the award with his name on it (or was it because of the snack?). Another who had received an award for October was a model student today, even volunteering to go up to the board, whereas yesterday he had put his head down for part of the class and refused to participate. I encourage all students, when they earn an award (from perfect attendance, or from events/competitions) to save the certificates in their portfolios/binders.
Anyway, nothing big or earth-shattering, but I’m happy that I’ve started doing perfect attendance certificates. And I plan to continue to do them each month!