“No, really,” I say. “If you’re ever not in class, you have to tell me. You have to text me.”
For some students, this seems like a reasonable request. Mr. Isero expects me to be in class, so if I’m absent or late, I should let him know why.
Other students, however, need convincing. This means reminders, second chances, interventions, consequences, and stern talkings-to. This also means clearly explaining to my students, sometimes repeatedly, that I care about them and their education.
Since I implemented my new you-have-to-text-me policy last year, student attendance has been way up. Most impressive is that tardies have plummeted.
I think it’s been working because every attendance event is something to talk about. When students are absent or late and don’t send me a text, they know I’ll follow up to question their character and to reiterate my interest in their success.