Taking attendance can feel like drudgery, or it can provide a structure that prompts direct recognition between your students and you. This means you acknowledge each other - as you are in that moment – by making a visible and verbal connection. As a result, taking roll leads to two related positive outcomes: you’ll know which students are physically present in your class, and also know who is “really there” – in body and in mind (Schoeberlein, 2009, p. 54).
Being that today is April Fool's Day, and also being that today was the day prior to a three-day weekend, my students were quite giddy and mirthful the whole day through.
At our school, we are required to take attendance twice a day: once, first thing in the morning, and again directly after lunch. Today, I was a couple of minutes late returning from lunch. When I arrived in my classroom, all of my students were standing, quietly, at their desks, ready to take attendance, as is customary...But, wait! - Not one student was standing at his or her correct desk. At first I thought that maybe Tania (Mrs. Hipple) - their math teacher - has rearranged their seats. But then I realized, they had all switched their spots as an April Fool's prank.
"Good one," I quipped. "Now you can all take attendance as if you were the person whose desk you are standing at" (I said this with a laugh and a twinkle - not as a reprimand).
I think I've explained this before - but if you missed it: my students all take attendance with one another. I don't call out all their names, I just call out the first student's name on the list, and he calls off the next, and so on. In this way, everyone is accountable for everyone else. Because this ritual practice is done as a community, taking attendance in this way invokes community and connection.
Because all the students here all the names called out in order two times every day, everyone knows the order "by heart." I wasn't surprised that they were able to run down the attendance list so easily today - however, I was surprised that they were so confident reciting the roll, as the "role" they were playing. Attendance sounded just like it always sounds - but with some "odd" sounding voices in place of the regular ones.
A dash of fun and play was just the kind of thing our ritual called for today.