I have been teaching for 15 years, and every time I assign homework, I feel a tinge of guilt. On one hand, there is no possible way I can sufficiently prepare my learners for what they need to know in a mere 48 minutes. In reality, some of my struggling students just cannot. Here are ten actual statements my students have made to explain why they haven’t done homework:
- My mom gets angry and violent, so I hide in my room and blast my music in my earphones to drown out the screaming.
- I walk around town until mom and dad finally pass out about 8pm. If I come home before then, they are too drunk to be nice.
- I have 4 small siblings, and I share a room. I have no quiet place to study.
- I am in the barn or the field from 4 till 10 each night doing chores.
- I switch between my mom’s and dad’s houses each day, so I am not sure where my papers are.
- We live in our car right now.
- I have wrestling practice every night, year-round. Dad says it’s more important than Shakespeare.
- I am the only parent at my house, and I have to cook and clean and get kids to bed. My parents work nights.
- I am up at 4am every day doing chores. I have practice after school. I eat supper and crash at 7pm.
- My friends are always over and they make fun of me if I try to get some stuff done.
Obviously these statements represent some unique challenges, but who loses out the most? Who is most likely to struggle anyway? How is this being differentiated? How can the school take what we get and help these students learn despite the challenges?