I Hate Taking Attendance…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I hate taking attendance for classes. I forget people’s names, the students never stay still, etc. And then when you think you’re being smart and you ask a student to do it for you… well let’s just say it’s not even remotely close to accurate.

So this past summer, I decided that I was going to come up with a solution. And after one semester of implementation, I think I can declare it a success!

From the outside, my system looks simple. A student volunteer stands by the entrance and scans a QR code with her phone on each student’s folder as they enter. That’s it! Obviously, there’s a bit more going on behind the scenes. Here’s how it works:

I created QR codes with a random string of numbers so I could easily add a new one if needed. Then, I taped one to each students’ folder before I passed them out at the beginning of the semester. Since I keep track of the students in Airtable, I added the barcode to their profile in there.

The student at the door has a Shortcut installed on their phone (luckily both of my volunteers have iPhones!). Here’s what it looks like:

Pretty simple, huh? It’s just taking the current date and time and the number inside the QR code, then sending them off to Zapier.

Zapier then takes this information, and pulls the student’s record based on that barcode. From there, it creates a new record in my “Attendance” table in Airtable, and links that student, along with the time that they arrived. This fills out a nice list of the times that students arrive. I have a separate category that I’ll fill in if someone has an excused absence, is going to be late, etc. I have drop downs for “Excused Absence, Unexcused Absence,” etc.

I also have a separate table in Airtable that has the list of all of my students. Whenever they gain an entry in the Attendance table (indicating they are here OR I manually put in that I expect them to be absent), their name disappears from the list. This gives me a nice easy way to see who isn’t here that should be. This also gives me a way to double check my student volunteer in case she missed someone or someone forgot to bring their folder.

Each week, I take the Attendance table and copy and the paste the records into a table specific for that date. That means I don’t need to redo the Zapier rule each week.

I also have an Airtable that pulls my records of when students are late or absent, and puts everything together in a manner that’s easy to view. You can even create a block for “Page Designer” that gives you a nice print out with the student’s information and a list of their absences. I’ll probably use this when we are doing auditions for the ensemble next year!

The only thing that I’ve decided I’m going to change for next year is that I need to laminate the QR codes before I put them on the students folder (or completely cover them with tape). I underestimated the number of students that let their music folders become soaking wet.