I think this is wrong for a few reasons:
- It’s too late. Students who haven’t done their homework are behind. They might be frustrated, lost, confused, or disengaged. They’re in my class, but they’re not really in my class.
- It takes too long. Instead of helping students with a warm-up, I’m checking whether they’ve done their homework.
- It often leads to conflict and negativity. If I’m checking homework first, and the student hasn’t done it, class gets started on a bad foot.
That’s why I’m excited about something new I’m doing this year. It’s called “Your homework is due tonight.”
Instead of turning in their homework the next day in class, students turn in their homework online at 11 p.m. the night it’s assigned. Then, at 11:01 p.m., I send texts to the students who haven’t turned in their homework.
It’s working. On Tuesday night, five students didn’t do their homework. First thing Wednesday morning, when class began, everyone had completed it. Via text, one student apologized; another thanked me for the reminder; still another kept me posted about her progress.
Most important, class went really well. Students were ready for our discussion because all students had completed the homework. Then, when they peer edited each other’s essays, there was 100 percent engagement because there was 100 percent preparedness.
There’s no time to waste. Especially with what my students and I are trying to do this year, we can’t wait around. The results have to happen now.
That’s why I’m happy with “Your homework is due tonight.” Sure, I’d like the deadline to be 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., but for right now, I love going to sleep knowing that we’ll be forging ahead the next day instead of meandering.