A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers - February 1998
Tips for Getting Homework Done
18. Show respect for students
Students are more inclined to complete assignments when teachers and students respect one another. Students sense when teachers care about them and want them to do their best work.
- "I really talk to my kids," says Ms. Budzinsky. "I'm very, very close to my students. I know them personally. Kids will do things for you if they know you respect them as people, as real people, and not just as students -- that you care about them as human beings. By the second day of class, I have all my students' names memorized. This is important. As a result of this, I think kids will do more homework. Half the reason they do the homework is because they like me. It's not always because they realize it's in their best interest."
- "If students know you really care about how they do, if they know the teacher likes and cares about them, they are going to try harder," says Mr. Ruffalo. Toward that end, he talks privately with any student who isn't doing well -- and who isn't completing homework assignments. "Screaming and yelling doesn't work," Mr. Ruffalo explains. "I reason. I tell them why it's important to do well. I say, `Look. Your family really wants you to do well.' I tell them, `If you want to support a family and have a nice lifestyle, you need a good job with benefits. For all those things you'll need an education. Education is the key that unlocks the shackles of poverty.'"
- Ms. Olsen-Virlee tells students that they can negotiate to change when an assignment is due if something major intervenes -- for example, a major sporting event in which they want to participate. "I don't always back off," she says. "Sometimes I challenge why they can't get [the assignment] done." But the fact that students know she is willing to take their needs into consideration sets a tone of respect that reverberates throughout her classroom.
Students sense when teachers are committed to their learning and view it as valuable for both students and teachers alike.
- A New Hampshire teacher, Deborah Woelflein, keeps a journal of her own whenever she asks her ninth-grade English students to make entries in theirs. Then if, as often happens, some of her students are reluctant to share thoughts or ideas from their own journals, she'll start by sharing her entries. The same approach works well with older students, she says. "I'll say, `Take a look at this -- tell me what I should work on.' Then they'll criticize mine -- they'll say, `I don't think this sentence sounds right. I don't think your introduction is clear. Here's another example you could put in.' This helps them see learning as a two-way thing. The teacher is learning at the same time they are. They see that it is worthwhile to do the work and get feedback from others. The more able students see that the assignment is not just busywork."
[17. Communicate with parents]