I find it hard to believe that our daughter has reached high school. She is a great student and we are so proud of her. We encouraged her to get involved and make the most of her experiences. She started off her freshman year with taking some rigorous classes (Honors Geometry, Honors English II, AP Human Geography, Spanish 2, Honors Biology). She made the JV Dance Team and was asked to choreograph the crosstown game half time dance. We are so proud of her because she is a good student, dancer, daughter, and friend. Proud of her because she works hard and is a diligent student. Proud of her because she has a tremendous amount of grit.
As the year has progressed we noticed a change. She is often tired and stressed. We chalked that up to the change with being in high school. However, we noticed that she was constantly doing homework and it always seems as if she gets more every night. She would get home from practice, eat a quick dinner, and then off to her room to do 3+ hours of homework every night. We watched as she worked harder and harder to stay above water. And then we saw her drawing. A drawing that gives you a sense of how she feels. How she is being weighed down by the amount of homework she is assigned day after day.
We saw this picture and our hearts broke. Our hearts broke because this was not the experience we wanted her to have in high school. Sure we knew she would have to work hard to do well in class, but not at the cost of other experiences and opportunities. As parents we are upset as we watch teachers pile on the work without thinking about the impact on students.
As an educator I see the assignments come home and I get so confused as to how these assignments are helping her grasp key concepts. Instead, the assignments are often worksheets, making flash cards, completing packets, or memorizing vocabulary. I don't understand how these assignments are helping students.
When I was an elementary school teacher I rarely assigned homework beyond some math practice and reading. I have never been a fan of worksheets or busy work. I would tell the parents of my students that homework should never be a battle at home. If their child was stuck or confused on something to let me know so I could help them in class.
I watch my daughter experience something totally different as a student and I ask myself how is this possible. How can teachers continue to assign work and not provide students with meaningful feedback on that work? Why are they not thinking of ways to engage students in their learning? What are they hoping to gain by giving students so much work to do at home? Why are they continuing with practices that don't impact student learning? How do they where their students are in regards to the essential questions or learning targets? How do they even know who is doing the homework?
We need to do a better job as educators. We need to think about what we are requiring of our students in regards to homework and how that will be meaningful for our students. We need to provide students with actionable feedback about their learning and provide support for them. We need to challenge them, but not by giving them more to do. We need to stop overwhelming them.