“I got this one”

What are the variables that play into student truancy?  I’m thinking about this because a colleague on twitter recently posted the following question:

Our classes need to be engaging but can School Admin support teachers with a program designed to encourage attendance? yes / no ..examples ?

via @sadone

I was confused at first and asked for clarification.

@sadone do u mean can admin design the program or support the teacher who designs the program?

via @shannoninottawa

And the response that got me thinking about the causes of truancy:

@shannoninottawa admin design a program to support student attendance

via @sadone

So, why do kids skip school?  I suppose that it depends on a number of things and the causes could be myriad, including the following:

  • Kids skip school when they have mental health and/or substance abuse issues that prevent them from functioning in a typical way.
  • Kids skip school when they are dealing with heavy issues at home, such as parents with substance abuse and/or mental health issues.
  • Kids skip school when they encounter bullying there.
  • Kids skip school when they don’t experience success.
  • Kids skip school when they don’t see how it is relevant to their lives – both current and future.
  • Kids skip school when they don’t connect with an adult in the building who cares whether or not they are there.

I am sure that a quick scan of the research would provide several more causes for student truancy, but my point is that there are a number of possible reasons, each with its’ own logical antidote, but with one bottom line.  No incentive, no amount of coercion and no individual “program” will address the causes of truancy.  Appropriate academic and student success programming and partnerships with outside agencies can address mental health and substance abuse issues, bullying, lack of success and lack of engagement.  And all of those pieces must be put into place by a team, which definitely includes the administration.  However, the absolute bottom line, as far as I am concerned, is the connection with an adult in the building who is going to pledge to be “in the kid’s corner” regardless of how bumpy the road becomes.  No one individual in the school can design a discrete program to remedy truancy.  The causes are unique in their combination, manifestation and effect.  Before anything can happen to fix the situation though, one caring adult needs to say, “I got this one”.  I guess the question becomes:  Who will that be?  Who is in the best position to get to know the kid — to find out why he or she isn’t attending and to dig deep to make it better?  Regardless of who it is, this much I know:  It is as unique and individual a solution as the kiddo who isn’t walking through the door.

image “I wanna hold your hand” cc by franeau

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