One thing that drives me nuts about too many teachers is the often overburdening homework they assign. I have watched my kids suffer through too many meaningless assignments that are just busy work, or worse.
I’ve watched bright young students with consistent high-90’s averages reduced to tears and screams night after night because they have many hours of work to do, and much of it adds little if anything to the learning process.
These kids must rise very early in the morning to make it to school on time, and thanks to the burden of wasteful homework, they are often heading off to school with 6 hours of sleep or less.
Of course, this clouds thinking and heightens emotions, adding more joy to the day. What a destructive cycle! Yes, they could manage their time better, but what ever happened to having a little time to relax, play, chill? Not to mention the way this encourages them to despise their own education.
Homework needs to be meaningful. Students need to learn something from it. If they are repeatedly doing dozens of problems for practice, this may not be the best use of their time. How about making the effort to assign the types of work they really need help with, or better yet, involving them in the decision as to what they need to work on? Imagine students taking ownership of their learning (and yes, this most assuredly can work).
Homework needs to be relevant – try to make it connect to the real world and to their lives. The chemistry teacher who suggests students look for chemistry in the kitchen gets this concept. The language teacher who encourages students to find examples of specific types of grammar usage in songs or books they like gets it. There are many ways to connect academic subjects to things that matter to students. You don’t need to do it every time, but try to do it when you can.
Homework needs to be realistic. That is, achievable in light of other work assigned, extracurricular activities, and “life”. The middle or high school teacher who assigns 30 to 45 minutes of work most nights seems forget that most students have five or six other subjects!
Thankfully, there are a growing number of teachers, schools, and even entire districts that get this and have called for “healthy homework” and sensible limits to the amount of homework assigned to their students. The flipped classroom movement also offers hope for continued change, as a well-design flipped lesson may often consist of a reasonable amount of time spent exploring a new topic as homework. Clearly, this approach is meaningful, relevant, and realistic.
Thank you to educators everywhere who have seen the light and lightened the load!
Kelly Walsh is the founder of the amazingly helpful EmerginEdTech.com - You'll want to check out his comprehensive list of online teaching tools with three minute videos explaining how to use them!