Our school is a small school making a big difference for students who have been placed in our building for various personal or private reasons. Many of them do not have "typical" experiences prior to entering the school system. Here, they receive additional resources and opportunities such as a smaller class size, as well as strategies for social and emotional learning in addition to academic skills.
My students come to school with many concerns outside of their control, so in our classroom we utilize teamwork and social skills to the fullest potential.
Students from the high school homeroom mentor my young homeroom students & I mentor the high schoolers. We connect with each other, often while playing with my younger homeroom students. During this time, the teens discuss random topics and their inconsistent attendance often comes up.
Students in our district rank among the highest in absenteeism in the state.
Our school services high schoolers in an alternative setting yet still has a 33% rate of attendance for many of our 9th-12th graders. They give reasons such as busy schedules, lack of snacks, responsibilities at home and outside influences. One of the recurring themes when we discuss attendance is how much they like visiting my room because they can use their earned points to "buy" snacks from my bins. The snacks are geared towards students in my homeroom, a much younger crowd. I asked the high schoolers if they would come to school more often if they had different snacks to purchase. They showed interest in doing so when offered microwaveable snacks and items they could bring home for dinner or easy weekend meals.
The students also wanted more frequent "special desserts" for attendance which is a monthly tradition at our school. They brainstormed ideas & picked an ice cream social, pancake party (especially on testing days), and microwavable popcorn. To this project, we also added bowls, spoons and paper towels which are used during these special moments. These attendance rewards are designed to increase student engagement. The students enjoyed discussing the foods they wanted, how many "points" they would get for coming to school each day, and what each item in their high school snack bin would "cost" them. We are super excited to bring this project to life and creating this project is starting the "Buzz" to be in school.
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