Efficient Roll Call / Attendance Procedures

Efficient Roll Call / Attendance Procedures

We all remember back in the day how attendance was taken when we were in school. The first several minutes of every class were wasted as the teacher called the name of each student, often with mispronunciations, and each student called back “here.” So much precious time was wasted. Now we’re well into the 21st century, and many educators are updating practice for taking the attendance of students, staff, or others at various events.

Here are some efficient ways to do just that.

(Note: In this scenario, we’ll assume that the attendance must ultimately be entered into a digital spreadsheet or system of some sort.)

Initial Sign In

If you have people from the outside visiting your school, they may have to go through security or the front office. If this is the case, provide a list of participants, along with their affiliation and a place for them to initial. This saves time as they enter the building because rather than needing to record name and affiliation, only initials are required. Make sure the list is alphabetical. This will make it easier for names to be found by the participant or security. When entering the names into the digital format, you can autopopulate every cell with "present" and then just change the few who are not in attendance to "absent". The record-keeping process will be complete in less than a minute.

Name Badges
If you are having an event at your school or other location and there is not security, an easy system is alphabetized name badges. On the badge include some basics like the wireless passcode, link to materials, hashtag. Once everyone has come, you’ll have the leftovers who did not attend. Record everyone as present, then just update the few who aren’t there as absent.

Assigned Seating
Assign seats for the start of the class. Indicate on your digital sign in, which seats were not taken. If there is a substitute, include a picture of what the students look like seated. This will also help to remember names.

Digital Sign In By Participants / Site Has Reliable Internet
Use a Google Sheet with participant names. Have participants log in and indicate their arrival time in the attendance column. Anyone who doesn’t update the sheet is considered absent. Another option is a simple attendance survey. Have people answer a one question survey by entering their first and last name if present. Note that if you use this method, you must have reliable internet.

Evaluation Survey / / Site Has Reliable Internet
Have participants complete an evaluation that includes their name. Download the results and sort by last name. Update your digital attendance with who is and is not present.

Additional Tips:

Proof of Attendance
Some people are concerned with proving participants actually showed up. What if they forge the sign in or have someone else do it? The solution to that is an easy one. Take a group photo. It does the trick and it’s fun to share with participants.

Sounds simple, right? I can’t tell you how many times sign in sheets or name badges weren’t in alpha order at events. This of course causes a slow down for everyone.

Don’t Print Double-Sided
Print names on different sheets. This way more people can sign in at the same time.

What do you think? Is there a strategy here you might find useful? Are there any strategies or tips that you use that aren’t here? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.