One of the biggest questions I get from teachers is “How do you manage your daily homework system without eating up too much time?” The struggle is real! Teachers are already on a time crunch every single day. Who has time to collect, check, and review homework too, right? Well, I’ve got some great strategies that I believe will help you save time and make your homework way more effective than it has ever been before. Let’s get started!
It seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Don’t wait until you are ready to start your school day to begin your homework routine. If possible, it is best to start your routine the minute your students begin entering your room. Waiting can cut into some seriously needed teaching time. That’s not good for anyone! Also, keep an open mind. Depending on your schedule, it may be best to go over homework at the very end of the day.
Assuming you teach upper elementary or higher, you should totally be delegating the job of “homework checking” to a responsible student. As students would walk in my classroom, they knew the first thing they had to do was take out their weekly homework sheet and leave it on their desk. Then, my “student of the week” or whichever student I felt could handle the job, would go around with my checklist and simply check for completion. Just a simple “yes, they did it” or “no, they didn’t do it”. Done.
I never grade student homework! First, it is WAY too time-consuming to grade. Second, it really isn’t fair. Being that the work is technically being done at home, each student has different advantages and disadvantages. Sally shouldn’t get punished by a low score because her parents weren’t available to assist her, while Jimmy gets 100% because his parents corrected all of his errors. See what I mean?
After checking to see who completed their homework, we go over it. I don’t like to waste time writing every problem on the board, solving it, and asking if there are any questions, because that is a waste of time and just not necessary. However, I do love projecting the answer sheet on the front board. I allow my students a few minutes to check over their answers. Then I use maybe 5-8 minutes to answer any questions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is probably where you are thinking “This can’t work! Students aren’t going to ask questions”. This couldn’t be further from the truth and here is why. From the first week of school, I establish a few key ideas about homework. 1) Your homework is there is help you understand what you still need to work on. 2) It is okay to get something wrong, as long as you try. 3) You are accountable for your own learning. If you don’t understand something, it is your job to ask.
Very quickly my students understand that homework review time is purely for their own benefit. There isn’t any pressure and there are no hard feelings about not understanding something because that is the whole point of this time.
I love using the homework sheets during small group instruction time. THIS is the time where I actually go deeper into the problems my students may have struggled with and I use it to guide my instruction. By doing this, I have turned my homework into an instructional resource for myself and my students.
This is really the MOST important strategy (save the best for last). Keep your nightly homework simple. If you don’t want to spend hours going over homework each day, don’t give hours of homework. Find an effective homework system that gives just a handful of practice problems per night.