Why I Stopped Giving My Students Homework

Teaching Strategies and Tips

There are many reasons why I stopped giving my students homework.

I HATE homework.  I think I hate it more than the kids do.

Other teachers tend to respond pretty negatively when I say that I don’t give homework.  If you give homework in your class, I promise I won’t judge you.  I just have made the choice to not assign it in mine.  So please… return the favor.

I never have really assigned homework.  Not consistently.  I think I realized pretty early on in my career that homework and I were never meant to be together.

Here is Why I Stopped Giving Homework for Good

  • Not everyone has the support at home.

I believe that this is an equity issue.   Growing up my parents couldn’t really help me with my homework after elementary school, aside from proofreading essays (Thanks Mom!).  I was on my own for math and science. They were involved, caring parents who made me do my homework as soon as I got home from school and didn’t let me do anything else until it was done.  I had a quiet place to work in my room, though I preferred to listed to music on my boombox while I worked.  ( I know, I am hella old.)

Many of my students don’t have that privilege. They care for younger siblings or work after school.  Many don’t have English speaking parents or in noisy, overcrowded apartments.  Many have crappy home lives so they avoid going home as often as possible. I don’t know what everyone’s situation is and I can’t control what happens at home.  I can only control what happens in my classroom.

  • They need sleep. 

Teenagers REALLY need sleep.  We often talk about it in class.  It is really upsetting when a student tells me that they were up really late because they were working on homework.  It is even more upsetting when it is the same kid telling me that they are staying up late all of the time.

I know that in part it is because they don’t manage their time well.  And they play on their phones ALL THE FREAKING TIME, but I don’t want to have anything to do with them losing sleep.

  • I’d like them to play, discover and maybe even read for pleasure.

This seems silly to say as a middle/high school teacher, but in my ideal teacher world they would be exploring their own interests, playing sports and moving around.  They sit too often.  I hope when they go home they have the chance to play basketball or soccer or whatever they would like.

And what if they actually read.  I don’t care what they are reading. I am so happy when I see them read.  If they can come and talk to me about it, that is even better.

  • They copy each others work A LOT!

I find students copying work from other students SO OFTEN.  So so often.  It’s crazy.  They post answers on Snapchat and google their answers. They do that thing where they think they are being slick and put the other persons paper under theirs while they copy. (I see you!)  We all know it.  They avoid doing their own work in any way that they can.

Again, I can’t control what they do outside of my classroom.  If they are in my room, they can still cheat, but I am more likely to find out about it and deal with the problem immediately.  If they have been talking to their neighbor for most of the period and if they miraculously end up with all of their work done, I can have a conversation with that student right away.

  • I don’t want them to start the period knowing they are behind or in trouble.

I don’t want them to enter my classroom feeling the dread of knowing that they didn’t get their work done.  That doesn’t set them up for success in the rest of the period.  I don’t want them to feel like they are working so hard and they won’t be able to catch up.

I want them to know that if they come in and work as hard at they can for 52 minutes that they can leave feeling accomplished and not have to think about me or my class until the next day.

  • It adds up.

If we all assign a little bit of homework, it can add up to a lot work for students.   I will do my part in making sure that they don’t have to much.  You’re welcome.

  • Rigor ≠ More Work

It just doesn’t.   That’s all I have to say about that! (I said that in my Forrest Gump voice, of course!)

There are exceptions and situations where I would assign homework.  Most students can’t be successful in an AP classes without extra effort outside of the classroom. If a student is absent, they need to make up the work (and possibly come in for help).

I know that some of you don’t get to decide because you are limited by your school or district homework policy.  I know that some of you find it very beneficial in your classes.

For me, removing homework has been very helpful in the overall feel of my classroom.  I don’t ever want to bring it back.

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