Homework. That thing that teachers give as a form of punishment and because they want their students to have absolutely NO life after school. Also, a way for teachers to make sure that students are getting in whatever they didn't have time for during the school day. And, also a blessing for some parents that want stuff to keep their kids busy in the evenings, and a curse to parents who already have tons of activities their child is already involved with.
That's right, right?
At least, that's what I've heard and been told by various different people.
Homework has always been a hot topic of debate in the teaching realm. Is homework OK to give? If so, how much is considered "fair"? Are students really benefiting from homework? Is homework just more work for the teacher?
All valid questions I've had to think about over the past two years. But, that's not what I'm going to discuss today. I'm only going to share about MY views on homework, and a situation that I was shocked by yesterday.
So, MY view on homework. You wanna know the truth? I don't like homework. As a mother that has one child in football practice EVERY night, another that's involved in show choir and debate, and a third that's so exhausted by the time we're home from said practices that's she's usually falling asleep over her dinner, I am NOT a fan of homework. I don't think it's right that my two oldest kids, who don't make it home from their extra-curricular practices until almost 7PM should have to spend an hour or two working on homework. We leave our house at 6:30AM and don't get home until after 6:30PM...that's a long freakin' day for a kid. Why should they have to extend that time even further doing homework?
But, you know what? Even though that's my personal view on homework, the first thing my kids have to do when they get home each night is complete any homework. Even though I might not like it, or think it's harsh to make them try and work on homework when they are exhausted and just want to go to bed... I make them do it. Because their teachers expect them to do it, and my kids will do what their teachers expect. Period. Their college professors aren't going to be lenient about extra-curriculars, so I consider it good college prep.
Being that I'm not a fan of homework, I don't assign much of it. Yep. You heard me right, I don't assign MUCH. That doesn't mean I don't assign any. My kids know my homework policy from day one. If they don't finish an assignment in class, or during the time I give them to finish up assignments at the end of the day, then they have to take it home and finish it. That doesn't happen very often, and a student usually only has to take work home if they misused their class time by not working as hard as they could. Then, I don't feel so bad. I give them ample time to do it in class, so if it doesn't get finished it's usually because they wasted their time. They waste their time in the classroom, I think it's only fair that I should take a little of their free time for them to finish their work. I also send home a spelling contract each week that requires the students to spend about 10-30 minutes completing an activity that helps them learn their spelling words. They complete one activity a night, and it's due on Friday.. so if they miss one during the week, they have all week to make it up. And many of my kids get in to the habit of working on the contract during the day, after they've finished up assignments, so even then they don't have homework.
I think my homework policy is fair. It's not overkill, in my opinion. Spending 10-30 minutes a night on homework (usually closer to 10) is reasonable, and still gives the kids plenty of time to enjoy their evenings.
But, something happened last Thursday that down right shocked me. First day of school, and I get asked by SEVERAL students if I'm going to give them homework. That's not the part that shocked me, as that's actually quite a common question to receive on the first day of school. The shocking part came when I told them "no" and then explained my homework policy. I received several huffs of disappointment. Disappointment that I wasn't giving homework on the first day AND disappointment that I don't give much homework. What the what?
For the past two years, explaining my homework policy has always received cheers. The kids I've had in my class the past two years have been relieved and excited to hear that they won't get much homework while in my class, and they will have plenty of time to work on assignments and such in class.. and that they can even work on their spelling contract when they have some extra time, so they don't even have to take that home if they work on it during class. That's usually the highlight of the first couple of days of school.
But with this class? That information caused disappointment. When I asked them why they were disappointed, one little girl said "I want homework, I love homework... can you give us some if we WANT to take stuff home to work on?" Urm....I didn't know what to say. And, she wasn't the only one. SEVERAL of my students looked to me with hopeful eyes as the young girl asked her question, all nodding their head in encouragement to what she'd just asked.
That's never happened to me before. I didn't know what to say. But, I just shrugged it off as first day excitement and figured that once they received their first spelling contract, or the first time they had to take something home to finish it, they'd whistle a different tune.
Yesterday was our first spelling pretest. Before they took the test, we went over the spelling contract and how it worked. I explained that they amount of words they'd have to practice would depend on their spelling scores. The more words they missed, the more words they'd have to practice, meaning the more they'd have to do on their contract and more time would need to be spent on "homework". What a silly thing to tell a bunch of kids that WANTED homework.
After that test, I had several kids that missed EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. All 20 of them. And, not for one second do I think that they're just REALLY bad spellers. Not all of them. I think that several kids deliberately missed every word so that they'd have MORE homework. I'm not kidding. When I told them that they'd have to work on all 20 words, and that would mean spending more time on homework I was actually met with.... cheers! I was so astounded, I kind of expected someone to rush in to my room with a video camera telling me I was on a hidden camera teacher prank show.
The same thing happened during our reading time. The kids had 6 questions that they had to answer. SIX. In a 45 minute time frame. After about 30 minutes, seeing that many kids had only finished about two questions, I told them that they'd have to take the questions home to finish them, because they needed to answer those questions before we were able to move on and get started with reading our novel. Once again, wrong thing to say. I had several kids that, after 45 mins, still had two or three questions left to answer and would need to take them home. Once again, I was met with cheers of happiness that they had MORE homework.
What is happening? What's going on? Is this some kind of elaborate prank that I'm being pulled in to?
I'm very curious to see how many of those excited little darlings actually finished their homework, and enjoyed it as much as they thought they would. If they didn't enjoy it, I have nothing to worry about. But, if they DID enjoy it...and want to do stuff like that EVERY night... I'm going to have a serious problem on my hands. I'm going to actually have to, for the first time in my teaching career, come up with an alternative plan for getting work completed in class. I'm not going to be able to "threaten" them with having to take work home.
What teacher has that problem?
Maybe, just maybe, they are all super geniuses and are using reverse psychology on me. Maybe, just maybe they are thinking that if they seem excited by homework, that I'll have to come up with an alternative for getting work done.. thus eliminating homework all together. Is that their real motive with all of this? Pretending to be excited so that I give them less work or not allow them to take it home?
I don't really think that's the case, but it's an interesting theory.
I'm just shocked, though.
I guess we'll see how today goes, when I check their first homework assignment. We'll see how many enjoyed having to give up their free time to work on it, and how many of them still want to continue down the Homework Path.
Fingers crossed that number has dropped, drastically.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!