If there’s one thing we learned the past couple of years while we were teaching online AND supporting our own kids’ learning, it’s that the homework struggle is real. The research on homework is unclear and shows that it is only beneficial under some circumstances. Which is why we were so charmed with this Twitter teacher’s homework policy.
It starts with humanity
“No kid should be embarrassed because they lack knowledge,” teacher Bonnie wrote in her now viral posts showing one of her student’s missed assignments. “So I tell them to write me notes and I write back. No outbursts, no displays. So he gets credit just for turning it in and letting me know he’s struggling.”
We love this approach because it puts the student’s humanity first. Bonnie understands that her students aren’t going to get very far if they feel ashamed. By giving students credit for explaining where they’re at and what they’re struggling with, she’s releasing them from shame and punishment and putting the relationship first.
It’s learning in action
Not to mention, this homework policy is what the learning process is all about. If our students can’t complete an assignment independently, then we need to know that so we can adjust our instruction accordingly. Life isn’t a one-shot-and-your-done attempt at mastery. It’s a one step forward, one step back journey that often doesn’t align with the rigidity students face at school. By giving her student credit for explaining why he couldn’t do the work, Bonnie is telling him, “you may not understand division now, but I know you will in the future.”
It’s teaching self-awareness
Notice that this homework policy isn’t giving credit for missed or blank assignments. Bonnie is asking her students to think about why they’re struggling and explain it. And that self-awareness is a skill that students will carry with them for the rest of their lives. So many problems in work and life stem from not communicating directly about our thoughts and challenges. But if we all had this homework policy growing up, what could change?