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 it...so 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.....