I read a post of a friend on Facebook the other day about how her power went out and she was glad that it happened before she fell asleep so that she could set a different alarm. I had to chuckle as I thought about my own alarm set up. I have my phone alarm set to go off “every weekday” so I can not forget to set it and then I have my night stand alarm clock set to go off 20 minutes after my phone alarm…just in case. But I have even gone a step further. That night stand alarm clock is the kind that sets itself. It always knows what time it is: power outage…Daylight Savings…it just knows. Overkill? Perhaps. But you can be pretty darned sure that I am not going to be late for work!!!
Segway alert. LOL
And speaking of tardiness…
So one of the big thing that my school has focused on in the past couple of years is attendance. You can’t be successful if you don’t show up, right? Classrooms receive rewards for attendance, students are rewarded, etc. But is it really the students that dictate their attendance? I feel like the focus is on the wrong person. I remember as a kid that my mom wasn’t putting up with having us home for a bunch of sick days, that’s for sure. So I am having a lot of trouble understanding why parents are allowing their child to stay home for small things or allowing them to lollygag about the house in the morning. I have a student who has been late almost every single day this entire year. Yes, this is one of those “I’m frustrated” blog entries.
I guess where this is leading is that attendance and being on time for school is important for more than one reason. Yes, the obvious…academics. You can’t believe how much a child can miss in just one day. Your child might be absent on the day where the teacher explains a complicated math concept and the students problem solve in groups and now they have missed out on that initial understanding. And ok…if this only happens once, it’s probably not a big deal. But then again, this blog isn’t geared towards parents whose children only miss a day or two each quarter. Missing lesson after lesson eats away at a student’s confidence, knowledge base, background knowledge, positive attitude about school, and most of all, grades, which follow him or her from year to year (more about grades and test scores later).
But besides causing problems with academics, being perpetually absent or tardy for school sends a powerful, but very negative, message to students. Actions speak louder than words and you are showing them day after day that school isn’t a top priority. You are showing them that school is not something worth getting up early for or that it’s not worth the effort to be there every day. You are showing them that vacations and fun days are more important than education. I know that some may think this to be an over dramatization, but I disagree. I not only think it sends a poor message about education, but about life in general. How many of us are plagued by late colleagues, friends, and family? I don’t know about you, but I find it very frustrating when I have taken the time to be on time and others think that their time is more valuable than mine. These values get instilled quite early, and a student who is late to school every day will think nothing about being late to work as they transition into adulthood.
So I promised more about test scores and grades. Let me tell you, teaching isn’t what it used to be. Instruction these days is driven very strongly by data. At least once a month, my colleagues and I meet to discuss testing data, breaking it down by standard by standard and by student performance. We use the data to plan lessons, plan small groups for students who need intervention, and group students based on the current information. When students are absent for testing or do poorly on tests because they were absent on critical instruction days, this skews the data and affects how we teach particular students and how we group certain students. Your child could easily be incorrectly grouped and receive ineffective instruction because they were absent. The stakes get even higher when students move from grade to grade. A teacher who has never met a student before has no other information, except test scores, on which to base grouping and instructional decisions. I can’t stress enough how important it is for students to be in school and on time each and every day. It sets them up for success moving forward.