One Teachers thoughts on Zero's aren't Permitted (ZAP)
Schools are headed there, are you prepared?
As a teacher I have seen many changes in education, different ways of thinking, waves of bright moments where we all buy in to some new fangled idea. The district I worked for was all about this particular writing program for years, all we heard over and over again was this lady's name. Then one day poof she was gone and so was the program and we were once again allowed to think for ourselves.... until something new came along.
So here it is the new wave of making sure that children pass in school. Do we fail children because they don't do their homework when they master the material without doing it or do we buy into the new system that allows kids to not do homework on their time but rather on ours.
Different Methods of ZAP & Why Schools buy in
One way that we don't allow zeros is by simply ignoring homework grades. Many schools are starting to see the injustice in students who do not have the support at home to complete homework and assignment outside of school. These students may or may not struggle in school but their home life interferes with them completing assignments in a productive manner.Does homework really matter and should it even be assigned? As a math teacher the jury is still out on this one for me. I am not sure that the end of homework is the answer, but I do believe in less homework. My class homework is always less than 15 problems, ussually closer to 10.
Another way of making sure the homework gets done when the students does not complete it outside of school is that they have to complete it in school whether during a detention time or during lunch. For some kids staying after school to have a quiet location to complete the work is something they really need but does it solve all problem, the answer is no. That same child also might be expected to be home at a certain time to take care of younger siblings, which is also probably the reason the work isn't getting done in the first place.
Another reason homework doesn't get done is the over committed student. You know the ones that are in every activity or are in one very demanding activity. These activities they have invested their lives to and at a certain age they believe it is more important than school. I get it because I have been on that side too. I was a dancer from a young age and by the time I hit high school I was at the studio 6 days a week. I also coached gymnastics when I first started teaching and I know the pressure those girls where under.
How I as a Teacher Change to Make it Work
There are a few ways to make sure your students are on track and that the new policy doesn't affect your classroom. I have done these at various levels of school and depending on the students and the class they worked.
The daily quiz. I stopped taking homework grades. After all it didn't really matter if my students did their homework or not, right? So I changed the way I taught slightly to make sure my student knew their math and were on the right track. My students were assigned 10 problems a night homework. When they came to class the next day they always had a 5 problem quiz, an open notebook quiz. The students could use their notes and homework, but not their textbook. Three of the problems were new basic problems and two problem were from the homework. It goes like this
Problem 4 - What is the answer to #4 on last nights homework?
So if the student did their homework it is right there and they just copy the answer. If they didn't do the homework they have no clue and the highest score they can get on the quiz is 3/5.
Okay it is a bit like cheating the system, but guess what my students always did their homework.
Another way is to just stop giving homework. A bit drastic I admit, but everything becomes classwork, you give plenty of time to finish it in class but if they don't they have to finish it later. You can give zeros for unfinished classwork under one of the schools I worked for just not for homework.
MODIFY MODIFY MODIFY - this is what I do most of the time. I meet the needs of my kids and know them and their situation well enough to know why the work isn't getting done. Whether it is lack of understanding, time constraints, or something completely different, knowing my students and their needs helps me decide what is right for that student.
Remember What the Goal is
Remember most teachers didn't go into teaching to give and grade homework. The goal is to teach students and have them become successful members of society. I want my students to be successful, I want them to learn, and I want them to have high expectations for themselves. In the long run it isn't about homework it is about doing what is right for the student.
"No other profession would be possible without teachers" - quote from the documentary Mitchell 20