On the weekend I read a post by Justin Tarte called The Truth About Homework in Schools in which he lists his thoughts on the "homework debate". Being a new teacher I began thinking about where I fall in this often controversial discussion and what my thoughts are about having my students complete homework. I follow many education blogs from around the world and have seen teachers discuss all different types of homework ideologies, from those who are completely against it to those who have assigned homework every single night.
I don't really remember having homework in Elementary or Middle School and while that doesn't mean that we didn't have homework... it means that I certainly wasn't traumatized by it or spending hours each night working on it (which I'm sure I would remember). Even in High School I can't think of one class where we had nightly assigned homework, with the exception of keeping up with our reading of "Lord of the Flies" in my Literary English class.
I'm not sure if this is a Canadian-American difference in education styles (many of the blogs I follow are American-based) or if I was simply lucky enough to avoid the homework load that is causing so much stress for students. Either way, I think it definitely influences my teaching style because I never grew up thinking that homework was a mandatory and/or necessary piece of the learning process. With that being said, here are some of my thoughts on homework:
- Students should never be receiving a mark for completing homework (or simply for
completing anything). Students are assessed on their understanding of curriculum
standards and I have yet to see any curriculum that states, "The student will be able
to complete assigned work outside of school hours."
- Homework completion is greatly affected by a student's home life, not just their
ability to understand the material...
- Nightly assigned homework should NOT be mandatory at any grade level...
- Teachers that feel like they need to assign homework in order to cover curriculum
need to reevaluate how they are using their time in the classroom...
- Students who are struggling with a concept are not going to benefit from simply
completing worksheet after worksheet at home ("remediation homework").
Teachers should work on differentiating their instruction and meeting the student's
learning needs in the classroom rather than isolating them by making them complete
more work at home...
With that being said, here is a brief look at what "homework" might look like in my classroom:
- Students will be given adequate time to complete all assignments in class. Those
who do not use their time wisely, however, may need to take assignments home
with them in order to complete them on time. Taking the assignment home is not
mandatory but the assignment due date does not change simply because a student
did not use the time they were provided with...
- Many of our projects will be real-life scenario projects with direct ties to my
student's lives. At times, I may ask students to look at home for certain supplies
and bring them back to class (ex. a paystub, cell phone bill, empty beverage
container, etc). Again, this is not mandatory, it simply allows the lesson to be
more personal as they have a direct link to how this is applicable in their lives...
- Students will be provided with a review class before formal assessments-of-learning.
It will be suggested that they also review/study on their own time so that they may
be as successful as possible, but it is by no means mandatory that they study for
x-amount of minutes at home.
Being a new teacher, I'm sure that I will end up adding different things to this list or modifying them as I see necessary. As I stand right now, however, these are my thoughts on homework... what are yours?