Saturday, January 4, 2014


Hello Education Universe...

So I just logged into our grading software to clean up a few things, and I ran a missing work report on my homeroom.  They have 5 classes:  English, Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies (saved the best for last).

Presently there are 23 students in my homeroom.  As a class, 911 assignments have been missed.  That is just under an average of 40 assignments per kid.  Dividing that again by 9 weeks in a grading period, that averages out to about 4.4 missing assignments, per student, per week.  Five days in a school week means that on the average, every student misses one assignment each day.

How ironic that it was 911.  This is an EMERGENCY.  I've read the studies on not giving homework.  I've read the studies on not giving a student a zero.  I get it.  We want to assess what students have learned.  However students have always been expected to do something.  I'd love to get everything that needs to be done completed within the confines of the school day.  My students also can go to a homework help program three days a week.  There is no way that this can be ok.

Whether it be federal mandates, the Common Core, the upcoming changes to standardized assessments, or the changing demands and expectations of the employable young professional, the expectations are going up.  More is being asked of education, of schools, of teachers.  We want to expect more of our students, but the urgency to do so is not the same.  Why?

I understand that giving homework for the sake of giving homework is pointless.  It is not an institution of school.  It is a tool.  Students need to pursue their learning on their own as well as with guidance in school.  They should bring something to the table each day:  their effort.

And I get it.  Being a kid is hard.  It really is.  Our students today deal with pressures from peers, media, parents, teachers, and the various social networks and online interactions they make.  They deal with a lot of stuff.  I'm 27, and even I am overwhelmed when I hear of some of the stress that they carry around with them.  Did I really grow up in the "good old days" already?  Am I already part of the "it was different back then" past that students feel their teachers existed in?  That's scary.

911.  This is an emergency.  I know it seems like nothing to them.  It's just some goofy worksheet, some boring reading assignment.  I know that's how they feel.  I try to limit what I send home to do.  I want there to be some significance to homework.  That doesn't seem to always work.  But the bigger picture is frightening:  a lack of dedication, of effort, of accomplishment.  Where can that outlook on life take you?

That's the battle we cannot lose.  Someday our students are going to have to replace us in the workforce and in society.  They may not need every fact we try to cram into their head, but knowing how to learn, how to work, and how to succeed will be needed.  From the fry cook to the Fortune 500 entrepreneur, you have to have tried.

Trying after all, is how we learn.  We try again.  Our failures make us wiser, our successes make us stronger.

Here's to trying... Take Care.

Mr. J.