Receiving homework late from students for a variety of reasons can at times be quite disheartening. Many teachers stay awake at night worrying, seek advice from colleagues or even surf the net for solutions. The following tips on dealing with it are partly from personal experience, partly research done on the matter by university professors and finally common sense tips from other colleagues in the classroom and through the Internet.
#1 Love the child you’re with
The most imperative policy to have and to hold dear is LOVE that child. No matter who he/she is, no matter what the behavior, no matter what the excuse for doing the homework late or not doing it at all –love that child! True concern for one’s students goes a long way. Especially when the child is an underachiever, the teacher’s understanding can perform miracles.
Children have the ability to filter through an adult’s façade and realize from the first encounter what kind of person they are dealing with: sincere, fearful, lame, dull, etc. Although at times they may be a bit presumptuous due to their own family background influencing their better judgment, in the end they will see the teacher for whom he/she truly is. Therefore, if genuine interest and care are not a part of the individual educator, it will relay a negative message to the child which will most likely result in negative behavior.
Depending on the personality of the child there will be the analogous reaction. For instance, a student eager to learn will make amends for the uninteresting and insincere teacher and during the class lesson will do his best to accumulate knowledge. The clever student, who is willing but loses interest easily because he is not challenged enough, will tune out and either start to chat with his neighbor or doodle on his paper. Students with learning difficulties will engage in talking or even creating a ruckus; anything to draw attention away from their weakness. Apart from that, the wrong attitude from the side of the teacher will hinder their learning.
Thus, the idea is to make certain one’s students see, feel and hence know one’s indisputable interest in them and their well being. When this is realized, they will make allowances for the teacher not being up to par on some days.
#2 Class rules
A) It has been written by many a professional of teaching that classroom rules are necessary. True, they are because they put everyone in guidelines, and guidelines are necessary for youngsters to learn to function properly. What is even better is for the class to decide on the rules.
Make them short and sweet and also decide on their consequences. No, not punishment -consequences. Punishment yields the opposite results of what is desired, which is to help the child realize that when rules which guide us are not followed there are consequences for the wrong behavior that will occur naturally. Punishment tells the subconscious that the child is ‘bad’; this ingrained in the child’s mind and he may grow up believing that he does not deserve anything good in his life.
B) What should classroom rules look like?
Raise your hand when wanting to speak or ask a question. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Walk [never run] [Respect] Treat people the way that you would like to be treated. Follow directions. Hand in homework on time.
Oftentimes if students are left to come up with the rules completely on their own, they will carry on with many rules that will probably be endless. For this reason an idea would be to guide them into such concise rules by asking questions: e.g.
1) How can you draw the teacher’s attention when you have a question? Why shouldn’t you blurt out the answers?
2) Sometimes classmates become restless and bother others; most of the time the person doesn’t mean any harm but it does bother his/her classmates. What’s a good rule to keep this from happening?
3) How should you go from the classroom to any other place in school and why?
4) What does respect mean to you? How can everyone show respect?
5) When a teacher guides you in class and in the homework she gives you directions. Is it necessary to follow those directions and why?
6) Why should you do homework and why should you do it on time?
Each teacher may have different guidelines or rules in mind and may want to address more appropriate questions. Each educator is free to be creative and efficacious as he sees fit.
#3 Homework box or tray
A colleague had the incredibly simple but effective idea to have a homework box (or tray). Students will place their homework in the box or tray way before the start of the class. At the start of the class lesson the homework box is taken away and any homework turned in afterwards will be marked late. This conditions the students to do the ‘right’ thing. After all, they do not want their parents to see their work marked ‘Late’. To be fair with those that come in late at no fault of their own, there may be a five minute time delay.
It would be a great idea to inform parents how one’s classroom operates by sending home a photocopy of the classroom rules and consequences along with the goals of that year’s class. The parents will acknowledge the teacher’s efforts and will more than likely help in keeping things on the ball.
#4 Notebook of reasons
Each time a student has not brought in homework or after bringing it late more than twice, it is a good idea to have them write in a notebook the reason. This will be a notebook you will have on your desk with the date, the student’s name, the homework and next to that the reason he/she will write in and sign. The child should be informed of this ahead of time (beginning of the year) and that after two non productive assignements, they should know that their parents will be informed.
It should be made clear that the purpose of homework is to reinforce the learning process and it is of great significance. That is why the teacher is paying so much attention to it. Meanwhile, ensure that the homework assigned is not overwhelming and that it is suitable to the subject.
#5 Keep the parents informed
Keeping the parents informed does not entail telling them of their child’s wrong doing. It means that regular contact is made with parents about the good job their child is doing so that when something does go wrong, it is much easier for the teacher to speak about it to the parents. Not only that, but the parents will automatically feel an affinity towards the teacher which they will be more willing to support in his efforts. In this type of communication it reveals that the teacher is in control and functions with his students’ best interest at heart.
As an educator you may come up with even better ideas than the ones mentioned. Keep in mind that the measures above are preventive. One’s attitude and assertiveness will also play a major role in correct classroom function. That, however, does not mean that problems will not be encountered. There will be problems because not all children come from families that are involved with their children’s lives. Others have to deal with growing up away from one of their parents while still others have to deal with poverty.
On the whole, though, the ideas mentioned in this article, which were obtained from the books,Psychology for Teachers by David Fontana [the British Psychological Society} and Psychanalyse et Education par Georges Mauco,will go a long way in helping keep the class on the right track and the homework coming in on time.