Homework is a hot topic for teachers. In fact, I get asked about this topic several times each week. The most common question is, “How do you encourage kids to do homework?” Many teachers reveal that they feel as if they are constantly chasing after students to do it. Additionally, they think it’s a reflection of their teaching if student don’t put forth the effort into doing homework.
In order to differentiate between EFFORT in EMPLOYMENT and EFFORT in LEARNING, I avoid the use of the word, “work.” Rather than referring to homeWORK, I refer to home assignments.
And the only reflection on your teaching should be to ask yourself whether or not the assignments are relevant, meaningful, and/or useful.
Following are some suggestions for making homework less of a struggle:
1. Give choices – Give more than one option for the assignments and have students choose their preference.
2. Explain that there is not enough time to cover everything in class. Also, as it takes practice to learn any skill it also takes practice to reinforce learning. Inform students that the brain retains little unless there is reinforcement, much the same way that a person improves skills only with practice. Emphasize that home assignments are given to help the students become more successful—that the assignments are in their best interests, not yours.
3. Have a classroom meeting. Put on the table that the class is a learning community and everyone needs to participate in order for the class to be successful. Ask the students to suggest ideas of how to help students who are not helping themselves.
4. Many of these students have little encouragement and little structure at home. Help students establish procedures for doing assignments, e.g., regular time and place each day.
5. Relationships can be critical. Empower by positive comments, such as, “I know what you are cable of doing.” Some students need to believe in someone else’s belief in them before their belief in themselves kicks in. In such situations aiming at level C is fine, e.g., “Don’t disappoint me. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have done.”