Thursday, February 11, 2010

#11- This homework "situation" is driving me crazy!!

Before I start, I really want some feedback from both teachers and parents and teachers who are parents, etc. on this issue....

This is my 3rd year teaching and with each passing year, homework seems to be the one issue that can get my blood boiling very quickly. Not assigning it, not grading it, not going over it, but getting kids to complete it AND turn it in!!!!!

First off, our school system will not allow us to grade homework. I am not really sure what the rationale is behind that policy, but I have been told it has something to do with parents helping kids complete the homework, etc.

So here is my beef...on an average weeknight (Monday-Thursday) I assign 10-15 math problems and a spelling assignment (writing sentences or an editing/proofreading passage). They are also required to read 30 minutes each night. Of the 16 students I have in my homeroom and the 15 in my co-teacher's class (we team teach on our grade level, so I have her kids for ELA and Social Studies), I have at least 6-7 kids each night that do not turn in one or more assignments. Many of these same students also fail to have their reading log signed nightly.

I have tried all kinds of rewards as incentives to get them to turn in their homework. But I seem to have the same core group of repeat offenders and they don't seem to care that their peers who do complete assignments get these rewards and not them. We tried taking away recess, but many of them figure it is less of a hassle to miss 10-15 minutes of recess than it is to complete 45 minutes worth of homework. In addition, I am pulling my hair out keeping track of who owes me work, when it is turned it, etc.

Today I had reached my boiling point so I decided to try a new approach. I called my habitual homework offenders out into the hallway during indoor recess for a little pow-wow. I started off by telling them that I needed their help solving this problem (making them take ownership). They seemed receptive to that. I then asked them what were some of the reasons they did not turn in homework. I got a few mumbles then a few fessed up to the fact that no one was there to check at home to see if they did it, or to help them if they didn't understand the assignment (okay, now we are getting somewhere). I asked them what they thought would be a fair consequence (notice I didn't say PUNISHMENT) for not turning in their homework. Surprisingly they offered up loss of recess, silent lunch and a few others that did not seem like consequences at all.

Then I turned the full-tilt child psychology on them and asked if they thought if you "forgot" your homework, you deserved a 2nd chance...this is where I was going to hook them.. They said "YES" and I said so if you lose recess for forgetting your homework, can we agree that if I give you a 2nd chance, you will complete the homework that night and turn it in the next day? Again, the response was astonishingly "YES!" So then I left the other shoe drop..."So what happens if you don't turn it in the second day?? WHAT..more consequences???? SO I suggested..."Don't you think your parents would want to know if I gave you a 2nd chance and you still didn't complete the work???" Blank stares....finally, a few "Yeah, I guess" and "Sure"...not as much enthusiasm this time around. So I thanked my little friends and sent them back into the classroom.

I then proceeded to call a class meeting so we could get the buy in of the rest of the class. Surprisingly, everyone was in agreement that this was a fair way to handle this is the newest "non-negotiable" in room 226.

No, it is not going to lessen my workload as far as keeping track of who owes me what, and I am certain I am goign to be callign home a few times in the next few weeks, but I think I showed them a little lesson in democracy and hopefully it will motivate them to get that work into me by the 2nd day....I am certain not many of them want that phone call going home about missed homework.

I'll keep you posted on how things work out.....


Anonymous said...

My child gets very upset if he gets in a hurry and forgets a book or something that pertains to his homework. I couldn't imaging him not doing it, he has homework every weekend also that he usually gets done Friday because he doesn't want to forget it.

Mrs. B. said...

Wow! I NEVER give homework over the weekend. I think kids need that time to decompress. Your son sounds very motivated and that is awesome! It will serve him well throughout his academic career. I guess my main concern with my students is that no one is checking/helping them with homework at home...there is no accountability, and that impacts my class because they think because there is no consequence for not doing it at home, there shouldn;t be one at school.

Kristine said...

OK so you asked for a parent's perspective. My sweet girl has so little focus. She doesn't remember to take home things and the teacher never checks. THen one day she'll come home with her backpack full of stuff that was never done and I have no idea when it was assigned. Also, the other thing, she doesn't complete work at school so she brings that home too, which means she ends up with hours worth of work that she brings home all at once. We try to do it but she ends up walking away and it sets the stage for a big argument. *sigh* What to do, what to do? Her teacher is the sweetest---love her--but she is not that organized, and my girl is not organized, so guess what--it's a disorganized situation and I've got a headache!

Mrs. B. said...

Kris- I feel your pain...I have a few in class that rarely get anything finished. I have a hard time sending it home because it never comes back. I try to get them to finish it by Friday but most of the time it never gets done. As long as they get part of it done and I feel like they are close to mastering the skill being practiced I am good with that!
As a general rule, I remind them to put stuff in their take home folder..but I don't check to see if it is in there when they pack up...because I am trying to sign agendas/reading logs, etc. But mine are 3rd graders which is different than 1st grade. Her teacher should at least TRY to make sure they all have what they need to take home...approach her and explain that you are concerned about C's organization skills and you are trying to work on it with her. Ask for her help and I am sure she will gladly work with you.