by Katie Long, City Year AmeriCorps member at Tobin K-8 School
Every morning this October, I could hear my elementary students cheering as their classmates walked into school each day. Each daily victory moved classes one step closer to their ultimate goal for the month: perfect attendance.
After learning about how important consistent attendance is to student success, my City Year team at Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury cooked up an exciting initiative to engage students in a school-wide attendance challenge. It was important for us to create a fun way to improve student attendance and build community throughout the campus. We created an attendance competition between homerooms - any homeroom who completed the challenge would be invited to attend a party with the City Year team!
Each of the elementary school homerooms received 10 cut out pieces of a pumpkin. For each day that the class had perfect attendance, one piece of the pumpkin would go up somewhere in the room so that all of the students could track their collective progress. The homerooms that got all 10 pieces of the pumpkin in 14 days got to attend the celebration. In the middle school, the homerooms switch each week, so the homeroom with the highest percentage of attendance throughout the challenge was able to attend the event.
“I loved the AttenDance! It was such a good idea!” — Frederick*, 3rd-grader
THE IMPACT OF ATTENDANCE ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
Research shows that a positive school climate benefits students’ academic success, attendance consistency, and overall wellbeing. Henriette Recny, City Year Boston's Senior Director of Support and Design, brings 12 years of experience in education to the team that drives the data-proven framework for AmeriCorps members' service in schools.
"When a student is repeatedly absent, this can translate into learning losses that perpetuate systematic college and career readiness gaps and educational access inequities."
— Henriette M. Recny, Senior Impact Director of Support and Design, City Year Boston
In addition to creating events like the AttenDance to reward students with good attendance, City Year Boston's AmeriCorps members make sure students know that they are missed when they are gone and that someone will be there to help them catch up when they are behind.
FROM PUMPKIN SLICES TO PERFECT ATTENDANCE
To celebrate the homerooms who achieved their attendance goals at the end of October, the students were invited to attend a special event with the City Year team. In addition to great music to dance along to, our students were welcomed to participate in an array of Halloween-themed activities. There were tables for students to paint pumpkins, eat granola bars, drink apple cider, and get temporary Halloween tattoos. Our whole team was present, along with the 3rd-grade and 5th-grade homerooms who were able to achieve the attendance goal set for the month of October.
“It was fun because we painted pumpkins, drank apple cider, and ate fun things!” — Ashley*, 5th-grader
“I absolutely loved getting to see students from other grades that I don’t necessarily get to see during the day and talking about the importance of attendance.” — Chase Goldman, City Year AmeriCorps member, Tobin K-8 School
The students that got to go to the event had a lot of fun getting to decorate pumpkins before school while getting to eat snacks and drink apple cider. They also loved the temporary tattoos because they got to show them off all day, and the other homerooms got to know that they were in one of the winning classes.
*Names have been changed to protect students.
Want to learn more about City Year’s attendance initiatives? Read these articles:
Attendance Awareness Month: How We Can Fill Every Seat in the Classroom