Teachers and Homework

Teachers and homework.

You think that homework drives you crazy?
Think about those poor teachers!

They've got to assign it, collect it, correct it, grade it, and keep track of it.

Students don't want to do it.

Some parents complain that they're giving too much; other parents want more.

So Why Do Teachers Assign Homework?

First of all, please know that most educators really don't want to ruin your lives! Like the rest of us, they have been told that homework is a good thing and it serves a purpose. There are also a number of other reasons they assign homework:

  • They believe "more" means "better." Why do we think that if a little is good, a lot must be great? That may be true with money, but when it comes to homework, more is definitely NOT better! Too much homework is one of the leading causes of school burn-out, among other things.

  • They are under pressure to cover material. It is absolutely insane how much material must be covered in a school year! And, it's getting worse! New subjects, new standards- the amount of material keeps increasing, but the school day stays the same. So, work must be sent home ("homework" get it?) with the hope that students will somehow get it done and/or learn it.

  • They must raise test scores. Politicians and administrators want high test scores. Period. They believe (incorrectly, in my humble-yet-backed-by-research opinion) that higher test scores mean smarter students. Higher test scores mean happier voters and parents.

    So, how do you raise test scores? Well, if we believe that more means better, we should cram as much information into students' heads as possible, right? Now we have two more problems. One, more material and information equals more homework. And, two, if students' scores do improve, the tests are made more difficult and the whole vicious cycle begins again.

  • They want their badge of honor. The teachers that assign the most homework are often considered the best in the school. (It should come as no surprise to you that I disagree with this!) In middle and high school, especially, they have a "tough rep." Sure, they may have more homework to deal with, but they also get more respect from students and parents.

    Here's an interesting fact: the more experience an educator has, the less homework they tend to assign.

  • They don't communicate with others. In middle and high school, students are assigned homework in each class. If teachers don't periodically talk about this, there is a tendency to "forget" that everybody else is also giving students homework. A student with 5 hour-long homework assignments is facing a terrible evening.

  • They aren't told not to assign it. One would think that educators learn about homework in their training and credentialing programs.

    Incredibly, teachers do NOT take a class about homework. They are NOT told if, how, when or whether to assign homework. They are not told which kinds of homework are good, which types are bad, and how much is too much. They are not told how to involve parents- or if that is even a good thing to do. There is nothing to prepare those who ultimately assign homework learn about homework! I find this amazing!

    Please understand that each teacher will assign homework based on his or her own personal history, beliefs, philisophy, personality, school culture, and what the principal expects. There is not some established, accepted, standard homework practice. There is no homework bible.

    Parent, you must do what is right for your child and your family!

Go to Back-to-School Night!

teacher, homework, back to school Back-to-School Night is your chance to get homework information straight from the source- the teacher- and in front of witnesses. Use this opportunity to find out everything you can about homework. It is best to have questions prepared and write down what the teacher says!

Here is a list of homework questions. Do not be afraid to ask each and every one of these questions! You will be doing yourself, your child and every family in that class a HUGE favor!

If Back-to-School Night has passed, make an appointment (please, do not just show up!) and ask the questions in person. It is never too late to get a handle on homework!

One thing you really, really need to discuss is the school and district homework policy.

Know the District Homework Policy

Yes, school districts are supposed to have a policy about homework. Not surprisingly, only one-third of districts do, but you gotta start somewhere.

Administrators (the bigwigs downtown and the school principal) should be able to explain the type and length of homework a student will be assigned at each grade level- and support this policy with scientific data!

The best place to find out if 1) your district has a homework policy, 2) the school supports it, 3) your teacher knows what it is and 4) intends to follow it is at Back-to-School Night.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Communication between school and home is crucial for student success. That being said, I am not recommending that you contact the school every time your daughter has a problem with her homework! I am, however, strongly suggesting that you let the teacher know if your child is regularly having problems.

For instance, if you learned at Back-to-School Night that homework should take one hour, and your child is consistently spending three honest hours on it- say something! Don't wait for conferences or for things to somehow correct themselves.

It might take a few parents complaining before changes occur. (I would like to apologize to the parents of my 1997-98 4th/5th grade class at Longwood Elementary School for entirely too much social studies homework. I didn't know any better!)

Homework Peace for Teachers and Parents

Parent Teacher Conferences

Teachers Say Parents Can Help

Brag about a teacher

Teachers and homework- for teachers only

Homework Organization E-Course

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