As teachers, we value work/life balance. It makes us better practitioners.
At work, we:
We do this at school so when home, we can watch our favorite Bravo shows, enjoy al fresco dinners, take bubble baths, go out with friends, cuddle our dogs, cheer our children, try new recipes, clean, and workout.
Maintaining a work/life balance helps teachers return to school excited, regenerated, and restored. Robert Stickgold, PhD from the Harvard Brain Science Initiative, insists that rest is crucial to memory and performance.
So why don’t we want the same for our students?
I divide each one of my classes into thirds: one-third lesson, one-third application, and one-third sharing. There’s no expectation of additional practice. There’s no requirement to go home and read pages, memorize terms, or study for tests. There are only the minutes we share together.
In class, students put devices and other classwork away, focus on the task at hand, and remain fully present. Each day, students learn, practice, share, and repeat.
I never assign homework.
After school, students work, take care of siblings, volunteer, participate in sports and clubs, and complete assignments for AP Stats, Economics, or British Literature.
There’s lots of research that suggests homework is inequitable, stressful, and ineffective. As teachers, we know when we assign homework, students find ways to cheat. They shift packets back and forth, send photos of completed worksheets, wait until the last minute, and slop down subpar work.
But what if we treated our students like we treat—or should treat—ourselves?
What if teachers asked students to leave school at school so, when at home, they could focus on home?
I deliberately don’t assign homework so students can make decisions about their time. Some take what they’ve done in class and continue it after school, but most tell me without homework, they’re able to go where their passions and interests take them. They say this makes them healthier and happier students—and more productive, balanced learners.