When I first started teaching, I would assign homework nearly every night. I remember learning in my undergraduate classes that homework was an extension of what was done in class, and was ultimately important to ensure students had grasped the concepts taught in class that day. So Imagine my naive surprise when only ⅓ of my students (and that’s being generous) would complete homework assignments. I made a point to lecture my 7th graders about why homework was important, how it would affect their grades, I even threatened to make phone calls home. None of these ever changed the outcome, homework still wasn’t getting done, and I was still frustrated.
So why weren’t my students completing assignments outside of class?
To answer this question, it took some time and a great deal of patience to truly get an understanding of what goes on in my students’ lives outside of school. I found that there were three main factors to consider when assigning homework to students who may be at certain disadvantages.
The first factor to consider is the amount of adult supervision a student has at home.
In most cases, students are not going to go home and get started right away on their school work without some encouragement (or nagging) from their parents. They just aren’t. Of course, there are some exceptions, some students do enjoy working on school work outside of school, but they are few and far between.
If you have students whose parents work evenings and are not available for help and support after school, then chances are students are not going to get your assignments done. It’s important to make sure that homework is a review of what was learned in class, and students are close to mastering the content. If students are struggling, they most likely will not be able to complete the homework without some guidance and support. Teachers can help by differentiating assignments and making themselves available after school to provide the support that some students aren’t able to get from their parents.
Teachers can help by differentiating assignments and making themselves available after school to provide the support that some students aren’t able to get from their parents. Click To Tweet
The second factor to consider is the resources needed to complete assignments.
Some students, especially our free and reduced lunch students, do not have access to the internet at home nor do they have access to supplies for projects and presentations. It is best to limit what is needed for projects to items or supplies that are easy to come by, or that you provide in the classroom. If students need the Internet for an assignment, you may need to consider giving students without internet at home extended time to complete the assignment. You may also want to make yourself available before and after school so students can use the resources in the classroom to complete assignments.
The third factor to keep in mind when assigning homework is that some of your students have other responsibilities when they get home from school.
Students may have younger brothers and sisters to care for, they may need to make and clean up dinner for their families, and I have even had some students who worked with their parents after school. To help ease their workload, it is important to give students ample time to complete assignments and offer your support when possible. Remember that homework isn’t always a top priority for students, and it’s important to remain flexible and understanding.
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