A teacher wears so many different hats! We have to be a jack-of-all-trades. It’s a wonder that teachers can hold up their head with the weight of the different hats they wears in a day. One of the things that used to frustrate me was students not turning in their homework. In each class, there were always a handful of students who rarely turned in their work. Why was this so difficult? What hat did I need to put on to solve this problem? One day I had an epiphany! I was sitting in a faculty meeting when my principal was reminding us about paperwork that was due the day before. I thought, hmmmmm, grown adults with a college degree don’t turn in their work with 100% consistently, so how can I expect children to do it? I decided to set a more realistic goal. I watched my turn-in rate for a week and then averaged it. This became my new goal for my class. I shared my new expectations with my class and then we brainstormed ways to exceed our goal. A few of our ideas were:
- Let students choose three homework buddies. Buddies exchange email and phone numbers. If student forgets a homework assignment, is absent, or has a question about an assignment, the student calls his/her homework buddy(ies).
- The first time you use this incentive method, change your seating chart so the homework buddies sit by each other. At the end of the day, buddies make sure everyone has all the materials/assignments/books they need to complete their homework.
- In the morning, buddies make sure their “buddy group” turns in their homework assignment.
We also had an incentive program. I hung up the letters for the word, HOMEWORK, on a bulletin board (the letter side down). Each time my students met their goal, we turned over a letter of the word. When all of the letters for the word homework were turned over, we voted on a prize. Prizes varied from playing Heads Up 7-Up to chalkboard/whiteboard races. You can do different incentives to keep your students motivated. You can either use the letters that spell homework or you can use the letters of the prizes such as recess for an extra recess, popcorn for a popcorn and movie party, etc.