3 to 17 minutes are wasted at the beginning of each class period.
That is, from the time the first student enters the classroom, until instruction
actually begins, wasted time can range from 9 percent to 32 percent of total class time, which is
one-third of school time lost.
We as teachers cannot afford to waste such precious time to get our classes settled and to take attendance. So we have to be more conscious of how we go about starting our classes.
In this video I will share 10 tips on how to effectively take attendance in your classes
Many educators, like myself – enjoy using that time to settle the class, or build rapport with my students. Consistently taking attendance also promotes a sense of routine, structure, and responsibility among students. It helps establish a positive classroom culture where students understand the importance of punctuality and accountability.
Table of Contents
Set clear expectations regarding roll call procedures and communicate them to students at the beginning of the academic year. Explain the importance of attendance, the consequences of tardiness or absence, and any specific protocols to follow.
Rather than simply calling out names, greet each student personally during roll call. Use eye contact and address them by name. This small gesture fosters a positive teacher-student relationship and creates a welcoming classroom environment.
Assign a responsible student as an attendance monitor or “class secretary.” This student can assist in marking attendance, noting late arrivals, or collecting absent students’ work.
Whenever students are absent, they should follow up with this person to collect whatever homework they missed.
Delegating responsibilities fosters a sense of ownership and shared accountability within the classroom community. Additionally, make it classroom procedure for absent students to get homework notes from the class captain/president. That frees precious time for yourself and teaches your learners how to be responsible for their own lives.
Start the day with a thought-provoking or fun question for students to answer during attendance. It could be a “Question of the Day” written on the board or projected on a screen.
Usually, when students’ names are called, they respond with “Yes” or “Present”
Instead of that, ask them a general question – and the students answer instead of their names.
That helps you check who is in class, and also build rapport.
Some questions include:
What’s your favorite… color, animal?
Do 2 at once what’s your favorite color plus animal.
Have students tell you what they did the previous weekend, only rule, it can’t be the same as anyone else. No repeat answers.
Favorite restaurant and burger
What they would do with the money if you gave them $10.
(Make sure to tell them you’re not actually going to give them the money!)
Have students reflect on what they have done or learned in the past week or the previous day. While they are sharing in a group or with a peer, take attendance. It’s easier if you have a seating chart for your class. – Something I suggest all teachers do, if possible.
Get students to do an activity such as a survey or mingle while you check attendance.
A survey or mingle is when the students have to walk around class and ask one another questions.
Tell your students to write down 6 questions. (You can write it on the board for them to copy, or give them examples and let them think of their own)
Then, they mingle around class, asking 6 different students one of the questions. First, they write down the interviewee’s name, and then their answer – plus, have them practice asking follow up questions.
Like – Do you have a pet? Dave – Yes, a dog (what is your dog’s name?) Beefy
Once the activity is over, each student shares something about someone they had asked a question.
Dave has a pet. His dog’s name is Beefy.
This way students warm up for class while you take attendance.
Themed Roll Call
Choose a different theme each day or week. It could be superheroes, animals, countries or famous historical figures. When calling out a student’s name, they have to respond with a characteristic or fact related to the theme. For example, if the theme is Superheroes, Spider-man’s real name is Peter Parker.
This adds an element of excitement and personalization to taking attendance.
“Start a collaborative story during roll call. Each student adds a sentence or phrase to the story as their name is called. By the end of attendance, you’ll have created a unique and entertaining story together.”
Start the story for them. “Once upon a time, on the school’s football field sat a little mouse…”
Remember that you can take turns to start at the end of the class list to shake things up.
Prepare a small box with objects or symbols representing each student. As you call out their names, ask them to pick the corresponding item from the mystery box and share a short story or interesting fact about it. This creates anticipation and encourages students to actively participate in taking attendance.
Assign a different role or character to each student for the roll call. For example, they could be a news anchor, a weather forecaster, or a sports commentator. As you call their names, they respond in character, providing updates or news related to their role. This imaginative approach adds excitement and creativity to the attendance-taking process.
Taking attendance doesn’t have to be a mundane task. Teachers have the opportunity to turn it into a meaningful and engaging experience that promotes student involvement, strengthens relationships, and enhances the overall classroom atmosphere. By implementing personalized greetings, incorporating interactive activities, utilizing technology, and fostering a positive classroom culture, teachers can transform attendance-taking into an opportunity for connection, communication, and community building.
By adopting these creative approaches, teachers not only improve the attendance experience but also create an inclusive and supportive learning environment. When students feel valued and engaged from the moment they enter the classroom, it sets the stage for active participation, collaboration, and a deeper sense of belonging.
Remember, attendance is more than just recording names—it’s an opportunity to create connections, build relationships, and nurture a positive classroom culture. Embrace these strategies and witness the transformative impact they have on attendance, student engagement, and the overall classroom experience.