“The Daily Hunt”: One teacher’s approach to tracking down students during distance learning

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

By Dr. Will Henson

We are halfway through the school year and for many districts across the country, that still means remote learning. One of the most maddening aspects of being online is having students who simply don’t show up. We worry about academics, of course, but also the student’s emotional wellbeing. I want to share one teacher’s solution. He calls it “the hunt.”

As this teacher maps out his time, he has a block each day dedicated to “the hunt.”  The hunt works like this: the teacher and his assistant have divided up the students on their caseload by who has the best relationship with them. Each day during the hunt, staff reach out in some way to each student. At least three times a week this is a phone call. Other times it may be a text or email. Each contact is documented in a log.

The nature of the contact is relational. It’s not about bugging, guilting, begging, or convincing. The contact is about keeping kids involved and engaged with their educators. Maintaining the relationship is the foundation of keeping kids engaged. 

This approach may not always work, but when it does, it can really make a difference.  Reaching out is not about statistics or conversion rates, and it’s not even necessarily about ensuring that the student shows up for the next day’s call. But it’s one simple thing that a teacher can try to make an impact. When we are all feeling that lack of connection, it can be small things like a phone call from someone who cares that can really turn things around. It is harder than ever for educators to have the daily connection with their students that they’re used to. This small effort can’t replace the in-person bond that’s formed, but it might be the next best thing. 

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