This is part nine of my blogging challenge.
As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why.
I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.
Tip Number 47: Check homework has been done
Oh yes, yes and again yes.
Whether or not you should give homework, how much to give and in what format are issues I’ve explored a lot on this blog. I’m still conflicted over these issues, even though Alfie Kohn was kind enough to refute the advantages I found and explain why I shouldn’t be giving homework at all (“Squaring Alfie Kohn’s Reply with my Reality”) .
But that’s not the point of this tip.
If you do give homework, the students have to know that you care if they have done it. Most students will not work if their work goes unnoticed. Penny Ur emphasizes an important distinction between checking to see that the homework has been done and checking the actual quality of the work.
I’m not the one to reflect on the various strategies suggested in the book for managing the issue of checking homework in large classes. I don’t teach large classes.
When I give homework, I check it. All of it.
P.S: Those classes of adults that I taught? With the 38 students? I didn’t know any better (and hadn’t read the book!) so I took their homework home and checked it. All of it.