Homework: Inconsequential or Essential
As teachers, have you considered that we spend much of our time preparing for the lessons that we are going to teach, but we do not take into account the homework that we are going to assign? Why should we anyway – the curriculum has done all of our thinking for us, right? Is this good or bad? Did you ever enjoy homework when you were a student? A joyous expression does not overwhelm the countenance of a young and impressionable student when his teacher announces: “Read pages 384-391 and answer the review questions for homework this evening.”
Back in 2010, when I was working on my master’s degree, I received homework every week. I really did not mind the homework because I knew there was a method to my instructor’s madness; he had a purpose for each homework assignment. With this thought in mind, I have put together a few tips to ponder when assigning homework. I trust that it will be beneficial to you as you are preparing for the upcoming school year.
- Have a purpose for every homework assignment.
What do you hope your student will glean by completing this task? The homework that you assign should solidify what you taught that day, engage their minds in an upcoming lesson, or sharpen a skill – like writing, summarizing, etc. A math student needs additional problems to solve in order to master an equation or even something as basic as subtraction. A literature instructor should assign a reading assignment in advance to help develop a framework for a particular literary work. And a Bible teacher can sharpen the skills of his student by requiring him to compare and contrast different passages of Scripture. These are all examples of homework assignments that can help your students. You must have a purpose. Share your purpose with your students. If you do not know why you are assigning homework, put a little more effort in and figure out why you are assigning it.
- Plan your homework assignment.
When planning for homework, keep certain activities and events in mind. Determine how much time you anticipate each student to spend completing his homework. It is not prudent to assign homework the day before a test. What do you hope to gain?
In addition, specify whether you want the homework completed independently or with the assistance of a peer. Mixing it up is a good idea. One night, require that each student work independently and the next, encourage them to work in groups. Students assisting one another in homework can be beneficial, but students copying answers prior to the bell is detrimental. Explain the difference to your class.
- Pursue excellence in homework.
As the old saying goes, “Inspect what you expect.” Check your student’s homework assignments. I know that this can be time consuming, but there are various methods of checking homework. If you assign homework daily, then do random quality checks. You still check the homework daily as a class, but you inspect them personally and thoroughly on a sporadic basis. This will help to keep your students honest and help you determine if they comprehend what you are teaching. If you require your students to invest a significant amount of time in their homework, you owe it to them to check the homework closely.
We know that our God has a purpose for each of us and for each of our students. As Christians, we are to follow his example – even in something as “petty” as assigning homework.
Do you have a purpose in your homework assignments? Have you carefully planned each assignment? Do you pursue, or check, your students’ work? The more effort you exert, the more your students will succeed.
Good teachers prepare students for the test.
Great teachers prepare students for their life.
– Todd Whitaker