Why Isn't This Working?

Last year there was plenty that went wrong, and plenty of reasons why. At the end of a frustrating day (not unlike today) it wasn't hard to look back and pick out a few major mistakes and figure out what could have gone differently. Now this year things are far from perfect. But, I definitely know I've come a long way since last year, and each day I apply countless lessons that I learned last year. In spite of this, some conundrums persist.

Let's take homework. Last year I couldn't get my kids to finish their homework. I checked it every day, which is definitely the first step. Toward the end of the year, and since the beginning of this one, I implemented Earned Free Time (EFT) at the end of the week for kids who completed all their homework. In addition to that kids who finish all their homework can choose one weekend assignment to skip. So I've established reinforcement and yet this morning only 5 out of 22 students had completed all their homework.

So I huffed, and I puffed, but it's unlikely it'll change a thing. Whether it's laziness, apathy or home life responsibilities I can't dream of, most of my kids seem thoroughly unwilling or unable to complete their homework. During lunch time I was complaining about this to a veteran teacher who asked if I had some sort of prize for those who did all their work. When I explained my system, she joked, "You don't need me anymore." To me, that goes to show both how much I've learned, and how little it matters with certain problems.

Comments

jonathan said…
Sometimes there's nothing you can do... but even then, there's something...

One trick is to give them shorter assignments. Make it embarrassingly easy to complete them (and keep the positive reinforcement)...

Could you allow your reinforcement to come into play for partial work? For example, when the unstructured time is awarded, could a kid with an incomplete assignment complete the assignment, then join his friends?

That doesn't get you where you want to be (homework completed at home) but it rewards, partially, a huge step (homework started at home)

Anyway, you have a little time to think towards September. It's hard to evaluate the effects of tinkering so late in the year. (not that you shouldn't tinker).

Jonathan jd2718
First time reader here and enjoying your blog. You're very introspective and reflective. Keep it up!

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