For pretty much the entirety of my career, I have been of the opinion that it was important to hold students accountable for missing homework. By that, I mean if they missed an assignment, it was their responsibility to make it up and hand it in. Once I began teaching 8th grade, this mindset was enforced by the idea that we had to prepare them for the responsibilities of high school. We had to keep from holding their hands and doing the work for them. This summer our administration and several staff members attended a Professional Learning Community conference. They returned invigorated. One of the results of their collaborations was that we were no longer going to 'let' our students not do their missing work. We were going to create a lunchtime study hall where they would make up any missing work from the week before until it was finished. I was skeptical, but I have to admit, it works. Leaving it up to the students never really worked, especially for the ones with an unenthusiastic work ethic. Why didn't it? Because there weren't enough tangible, immediate, and measurable consequences for not completing their work. Students in the middle school need that. Telling them that it will affect their grade or their comprehension of the concept doesn't make enough of an impression. Now I see students taking the initiative to get their late work in to me by Friday so that they don't appear on Monday's list of missing work. More than that, I have seen an improvement in their learning. Students are not falling behind to the degree they once were. Some students who frequently didn't do their homework have even begun to get it in on time, over and over again. I was wrong. By giving them some structure and consequences that matter to them, they are improving. More importantly, I believe my students are developing better habits and becoming more responsible. I am very grateful that my administration and my team were willing to do the work necessary to put this plan into action. I am also glad that I have once again been taught the lesson that a fixed mindset is not always the best one. What are your experiences/thoughts?
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