Recognize and Celebrate Success
Recognizing and celebrating successes, even small ones, is critical to keeping mentees engaged. Remember, these students have struggled with attendance in the past and changing behavior takes time. Celebrating incremental improvements helps to motivate and reinforce the mentee’s new attendance behaviors. For example, if a mentee missed four days of school in one week and reduced absences to three in the next week, acknowledge the improvement! Ask the students what they did differently this week and let them know they’re on the right track. Ideally, the mentor and mentee can then set a goal for further improvement.
Recognition and incentives don’t need to be costly. They can be as simple as applause or a high five when the student shows up on time. Or, take a photo and make an attendance certificate to reward significant improvement over several weeks.
Ideally, what happens for students with success mentors is embedded within a larger school-wide program of attendance incentives. Success mentors should be a Tier 2 strategy within a set of school-wide Tier 1 strategies. Schools do not, for example, want the incentives for mentees to be so attractive that other students feel left out and miss school so they can be assigned a success mentor! But success mentors can help make recognition that a mentee receives from the school for improved attendance feel even more special by, for example, taking a picture of the student with the recognition and sending it home with a note of congratulations. Mentors should also recognize families for their efforts to get their children to school. Consider helping the school staff identify meaningful incentives for students and families for the school-wide recognition programs.
Examples of School Wide Attendance Incentives