Happy Election Day! If you live in America, make sure you get out there and exercise your right to vote. I promise you it’s so important. I’m not going to post my political beliefs on here and tell you who you should vote for. It’s up to you to do the research on what values you are after. I voted this morning in person for the first time (I voted in both 2016 and 2018 by absentee).
In addition to not posting political beliefs on here, I am also not going to make today’s post political. Well, it may be political to some, but not in the fate of the government. way.
While I was a student, I almost always had a decent amount of homework. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be doing my homework before practice or a game. Even in college, I very rarely turned in late work.
Truthfully, even in high school, it was a lot of work. Some of it was easy, but that didn’t change the fact that I was a two-sport athlete all four years. Trying to balance homework, practices, games, a somewhat consistent sleep and eating schedule, and even a bit of a social life wasn’t easy. Things often suffered if I’m being honest.
As I got into college and studying to be a teacher, I still continued to get homework. I decided to myself that I couldn’t do this when I was a teacher. While student teaching, I began to implement my homework policy as a little bit of a test run. I got hired shortly before graduation, and then later found out that my school’s policy is to have 2-3 homework grades a week.
So here’s my homework policy: I don’t “assign” homework. There’s a teacher going viral on TikTok for this reason currently, and I stand by much of her reasoning. For one thing, you cannot guarantee that a student is doing the work correctly. For another thing, you cannot ensure that students are actually learning something.
But my school still requires homework grades. Especially being in person (though I did this while virtual too), I assign multiple activities for my kids to do in class. When it comes time to grade them, I just put one as homework. Doing this allows me to “cheat” the system. It lets me meet the requirements my school has for me. I can also make sure the students are completing it. Lastly, my students like it better because they don’t have to worry about it later on. I try to treat my students like middle schoolers. I know they have other responsibilities besides school. I also don’t teach in the most affluent district. Sometimes these kids don’t have the best homelife. They’re under enough stress as it is. Also, many jobs don’t have work that you take home. When you clock out for the day or get off, then you should be done. Why do kids not get to follow that rule?
Part of my job as a teacher also requires discussing data that our students provide. Some of my data has actually been pretty skewed. It makes my students look like they are at or above where they should be, when truthfully this is not the case. The reason that my data gets skewed is I can only work with what I have. My other kids who are not quite where they need to be are not completing the work. So yes, my scores and stuff look nice, but it’s hard to have an accurate reading when only about a third of my students. By providing time for my students to work in class and get their “homework” done, I can answer any questions they may have. I can also check and encourage their progress. I tell my students that I will always reward effort. So even if they are wrong, they are still going to get credit of some kind.
Another reason I don’t assign extra homework is that I’m the expert. I talked last year about how teaching is a lot of work. I included that I have to be the expert in history to be able to share it with my students. If they have questions about the content, they can ask right away and get the answer they need. Not all of them can do that at home. I do still get messages at even late hours some days, and I am happy to be there for my students, but when these answers get addressed in class, then that’s less work outside of the classroom for both me and my students.
I have a sign in my classroom that says “The future of the world is in my classroom today.” That’s so true. We are out here instructing and guiding the kids of the future. I believe that it is my job to prepare them as best as possible, and I am doing what I can to accomplish that goal. That includes not giving them homework.
You may not agree with this stance, and that’s fine (whether you’re a teacher or not). The fact is: I know my classroom and my kids. I have learned what they can and can’t handle, and I am doing the best I can as their teacher. That doesn’t mean that I’ll get everything right. I’m human. I’m going to screw up. But I want to give them the best opportunity that I can.