March 7, 2023

Three Reasons Why Attendance Work Shouldn’t Rely on Teacher Outreach

Improving chronic absenteeism requires a team approach, with staff members reviewing data, implementing campaigns, and creating a positive school climate that encourages attendance. Teachers, one of the most trusted figures in a student’s education, play a key role in creating a welcoming learning environment where students want to gather. A phone call home from a teacher can go a long way, whether it’s during implementation of Tier 1 & Tier 2 interventions, or just a friendly call home. However, given the many demands on teacher time and attention, taking the lead on attendance initiatives and outreach shouldn’t have to be one of them. 

1. Remove administrative burdens 

From lesson planning to grading papers and the one thousand things in between, teachers have a never-ending to-do list. Already serving as a trusted advisor and key partner in family engagement, putting administrative tasks on their plate like attendance emails, texts, or digital postcards is just unnecessary. Attendance interventions that send timely, personalized messages are a great alternative that allow teachers to continue building deep relationships with students and families. 

2. Implement consistent outreach at scale 

Communicating comes easier to some people than others, and teachers are no exception. While sending attendance messages may feel effortless to some teachers, others may struggle with the content, cadence, and delivery. Some teachers enjoy home visits, and others may be looking for more training and support. This all results in widely differing attendance outreach at the school and district level. Clear and consistent communication is essential to building a strong foundation for engaged and informed families, and the best way to guarantee strong attendance outreach is through an intervention that can be personalized but still delivered at scale.  

3. Optimize connections to resources 

Another benefit of implementing a school or district-wide attendance intervention independent of teacher support is the speed at which families can be connected to district and community resources. A large part of attendance work is mitigating and addressing barriers to attendance through timely connections to resources like transportation, mental health, and food distribution. While teachers can of course be a supportive partner in addressing barriers to learning and attendance, an attendance plan that can connect families directly to the resources they need, when they need them, removes a large part of the additional follow-up work that teachers don’t have time for. 

Teachers play an unequivocally essential role in cultivating positive attendance habits and a vibrant school community. But by distributing this important work and leveraging strategic partners, teachers are given more room to teach and can rest easy knowing that effective outreach is underway across their school. 

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