being a teacher, education reform, MIEExpert15, no homework, student voice, students choice

Before You Assign That Homework – What Students Wish You Knew


“Should teachers assign homework?” was the question I asked my students today.  I thought I knew the answer, a resounding no I was sure, and yet, once again my 7th graders surprised me.

While some pleaded for no more homework, many said they understood the purpose of it, that it was a necessary component of school and then wrote a paragraph asking for change.  Asking for their thoughts to be considered.  Asking for teachers to think before they assign.  So what my students wish teachers knew before homework is assigned is now written here for the world to see.

They wish teachers knew just how busy they are.  That we ask them to live balanced lives that involve sports, family, friends, and sleeping, yet assign hours of work that pushes their bedtime later and later.  They cannot fit everything in, even though they try.

They wish teachers knew just how stressed they are.  That they feel like our expectations are through the roof at all times, but sometimes they are bound to mess up, and can we make that okay as well?  Can it be okay to forget once in a while or to not get it all right?

They wish teachers knew that they don’t always need the practice.  That homework should be for those kids that don’t quite get it, not assume a need for everyone, and that those that really don’t get it won’t get it after they do the homework.  That they need help in school instead.

They wish teachers knew how much we all assign.  That we spoke to one another more so that we see that our class may not assign a lot but when you add each class together, it is now hours of work, not just a little bit of time.

They wish teachers knew that they have worked really hard in school and wish they could have a break.  That homework on some days is okay but it doesn’t need to be every day. Nor does it need to be over the holidays.  That tehy get we have a lot to cover but can they promise us to work hard in school in exchange for time off from school?

Finally, they wish teachers actually did their own homework.  That they tried the assignments so they could see how difficult or confusing they may be.  That they worked through it with kids, not in a pretend way, but really, and then shared their own learning with students.  That teachers truly felt what it means to live the life of a student, along with the pressure of homework,  to understand why homework continues to be a problem for some.

Once again, my students thoughts push my own thinking.  I quit assigning homework years ago but still run into my old ways once in a while; there always seems to be so much to cover, so much to do.  Now, I only assign reading every night, but even that adds up with everything else.  So I wonder; if we all asked our students, what would they say about homework?  And what would we do about it?  How would their answers change education?

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.