Schools have changed a lot in recent years. However, one thing has remained unchanged: attendance awards.
On paper, such awards are a good idea because they encourage good attendance. And we all know that regular attendance is linked to good grades.
However, such awards are outdated and ineffective. They may even be holding your students back!
Are you wondering why attendance awards need to disappear for good? Keep reading to learn the answer!
Encouraging Bad Habits
One of the primary goals of school is to foster good behaviour. We want students to master the kinds of skills in school that will help them find success in a vocational career.
Offering attendance awards runs counter to this goal. Why? Simple: it encourages sick students to come to school no matter what.
When a child (or adult) is sick, the responsible thing is to keep them away from other people. However, attendance awards send the message that they should “tough it out” and come in despite their sickness.
In these scenarios, our attempt to motivate a few students may end up infecting the entire class!
Punishing the Wrong Students
Many teachers and schools see attendance as an extension of their discipline system. Just as we reward some students for attendance, we punish those who don’t make it to class with enough frequency or punctuality.
The truth is that these punishments target the wrong students. This is because their attendance habits are typically outside of their control.
Children can only make it to school on time if their parents follow a regular schedule. But everything from a broken vehicle to family drug addiction may impact how often a student makes it to class.
When we punish these students for something outside of their control, we send the message that their intentions and efforts don’t matter. This has the potential to turn a competent and motivated student into a lazy and listless one.
Too Much Pressure
Think about your attendance policy. What is the ultimate message that it sends to students?
The message most of them take away is that their feelings don’t matter. That if they are dealing with unexpected stress or trauma, they should bottle those feelings and come to school anyway.
This is a very unhealthy attitude. It also does not line up with their future careers, as most workers understand the need to take a “mental health day” on occasion to stay motivated and productive.
Additionally, these policies may be adding pressure to some of your best students. If someone is regularly acing all of their tests, do we want to make them feel bad if they missed a day or two of class?
Speaking of grades, we teachers base our classes around tests. And the tests are a natural way to assess exactly how much a student has (or has not) learned in recent days.
However, attendance rewards can send a very different message to our students. We are rewarding them just for showing up!
In their future careers, today’s students will not be rewarded simply for showing up. Instead, managers will pay attention to the quality and consistency of their work.
If we truly wish to prepare students for a future career, we should stop rewarding attendance and focus on rewarding quality work.
Negative Grade Impact
Those unrealistic standards extend beyond simply rewarding students for showing up. In time, they may negatively impact students’ academic performance.
Motivated students who see unmotivated students being rewarded may think their efforts are being wasted. If these other students can coast by, why not them?
And those unmotivated students who are rewarded well for attendance may slack off on their other tasks. After all, we have already shown them that they can get good marks regardless of performing well in any given task.
So far, we have focused on why attendance policies are bad for students. However, these policies also make life unnecessarily difficult for teachers.
On any given day, a teacher is juggling a variety of tasks. This includes preparing lessons, grading tests, responding to e-mails, and organising their classroom.
Keeping a strict track of attendance adds another layer of management to a busy schedule. And as we have outlined above, all of this work may negatively impact our students. In short: this extra time and effort aren’t worth it!
For the sake of students and teachers alike, schools should kick their attendance policies to the curb where they belong.