I’ll Make My Reading Logs Optional Says Virginia Teacher

The post that has generated the most Comments ever is I Hate Reading Logs by FedUp Mom. If you scroll through, you’ll notice that teachers have chimed in, some rethinking their own homework practice, others defending it. I was particularly struck by the openness of a teacher from Virginia, who found the post while looking for a reading log, and ended up rethinking logs altogether.

I also thought the teacher made a very good point about the importance of keeping all discussions between teacher and parent as cordial and as respectful as possible.

I’ll Make My Reading Logs Optional
by a Virginia Teacher

I accidentally came upon this website when searching for reading logs to give to my students this year for homework. This blog has really made me rethink the validity of the entire idea and really homework in general. Reading the comments from so many frustrated parents has been insightful, because I honestly never thought about how homework can invade a child’s home/after-school life. I applaud the parents who advocate for their kids and the tremendous weight homework can put on their shoulders. As a teacher, I want parents to feel like partners in the classroom and having conversations like this one can only help kids get the best educational experiences possible. The last thing I want to do is to stress my students out, so I’ll probably make the reading logs optional.

One thing I noticed by this site is a distinct divide between teachers and parents and while I do think discussion is important, it seems to get hostile. There are huge assumptions being made on both sides. I think teachers and parents BOTH need to have a generosity of the spirit. I am not, and have never been interested in doing harm to any student in my class – that’s not why I teach. In the same way, I don’t think concerned parents are trying to “terrorize” teachers. There has to be middle ground on which teachers and parents can both feel validated.

I think this is important to keep in mind: Teachers have kids for 7 hours a day for only 9 months. Parents have kids for a lifetime. Parents are a child’s first teachers and parents know their kids the best. I believe good, effective teachers honor this. It is very sad to me that so many families have experienced such negative experiences with public schools, especially because kids and their opinion of school and learning are caught in the crossfire.

I will definitely have a different mindset about homework going into this new school year.

24 Comments on “I’ll Make My Reading Logs Optional Says Virginia Teacher”

  1. FedUpMom says:

    Sara – thanks for highlighting this comment. It’s like an oasis in the desert on the “I Hate Reading Logs” page.

    September 24th, 2009 at 11:06 am
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  2. PsychMom says:

    And why is it that this teacher seems to have options…when we hear so often that “teacher have no choice”. They “have” to do reading logs. They “have” to give homework.

    I think we, as parents, need to empower the teachers more to stand up to parents who demand homework and administrators who dictate what goes on in classrooms. The first step I guess, is to find out what the teacher’s stance truly is, and if she/he feels powerless to change things, then we need to rally support behind that teacher to make the changes he/she wants.

    If the teacher really does believe in reading logs, then working to get them optional needs to happen. Doing things because “they’ve always been done that way” just doesn’t cut it.

    The Virginia teacher is a good example of a teacher who treats her work as a professional does. She went looking for information, and was guided by what she found..she didn’t just dismiss it because it didn’t fit into what she was looking for. She embodied the learning process.

    I guess that’s what is so frustrating about the teachers who write in who are angry at we parents who are just molly coddlers….. indulgent, detached, irresponsible parents. They don’t seem to try to learn anything new.

    September 25th, 2009 at 2:42 pm
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  3. DeidraHewitt says:

    This teacher is obviously worth her weight in gold. Perhaps she can be an example, for other teachers. I know that there have to be more teachers out there, who see more than one side of the issues. I’m not sure whether they’re afraid to speak up, but I agree with this teacher, that we have to try and bridge the divide.

    September 25th, 2009 at 3:33 pm
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  4. reading log says:

    reading log due october1 2009

    September 29th, 2009 at 6:54 pm
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  5. Kristine says:

    I have one child in grade 3 and one in kindergarten. We live in Canada and we have exactly the same experience. Too much homework! Teachers have choices. School rules our lives. My eldest child is only 8. She hasn’t the energy or focus for more work after a 7 hour day. Teachers don’t have to give homework. It’s their decision. What I don’t understand is why they still do it, when they have children of their own. They must know how difficult it makes life at home. Do they not get that more work after school is too much?

    September 29th, 2009 at 11:40 pm
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  6. CA Teacher says:

    PsychMom & Kristine, not all teachers do have choice. My district policy mandates homework. I make the choice to give the bare minimum to meet the district requirement. Parents don’t mandate my choices, and I don’t know of any teachers who give homework because parents think they should. I give it because, and only because, yes–I really am required to by my employer. Why do so many people think teachers make these types of decisions in a vacuum? We have some freedom, but it’s precious little and within framework that is set by administration and the school board. If you want to change things, that is where you need to go–not to the actual teacher. (Unless you have a teacher who is assigning more homework than policy allows.)

    October 1st, 2009 at 9:30 pm
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  7. Disillusioned says:

    CA Teacher again brings up a good point…..”she is required to by my employer.” The crux of the conflict. Our tax dollars are used to fund her “employers” who then turn around an arrogantly assume “they know best” in regards to our children. Unbelievable.

    October 10th, 2009 at 5:03 pm
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  8. Kelli says:

    Seriously??? It’s a signature on a reading log. Get a grip! Unpaid employee…for overseeing YOUR daughter’s HW??

    Let’s face it! Teachers can make kids sit down, be quiet, even stare at the page, but they can’t make them do silent reading. Help the teacher out. I teach high school English and KNOW that student inablility to read stems from NOT reading. I can’t run fast because I don’t run. Most kids can’t read because they don’t read.

    If I was this teacher, I would have said fine…as long as I don’t have to support this kid when she is older…you do whatever you want with your kid’s education.

    October 20th, 2009 at 1:33 pm
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  9. FedUpMom says:

    Kelli — if you read my original post, you will see that my daughter did all of the required reading. I’m not against reading at all.

    The “unpaid employee” comment is not just about the required signature. It’s the way that the teacher addresses parents, as if we are just awaiting our orders. Teachers say they want a partnership with parents, and then they issue a stream of commands and bark at us if we don’t comply.

    *****************
    If I was this teacher, I would have said fine…as long as I don’t have to support this kid when she is older…you do whatever you want with your kid’s education.
    *****************

    You think you’ll have to support my kid when she’s older because she didn’t do a crummy reading log? That’s a little more charitable than the commenter who predicted my daughter would be in jail by the age of 25, but only a little. The truth is that reading logs, like most of the homework my daughter has been assigned, have nothing to do with learning.

    The only issue here is compliance. It is not the case that only totally compliant kids will be able to support themselves in adult life. There’s plenty of compliant, former good students standing on the unemployment line today, and there’s plenty of homework-shirking, noncompliant types who have very good jobs today. You don’t prepare kids for adult life by forcing them to do everything the teacher tells them to, whether it’s worth doing or not.

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:17 pm
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  10. PsychMom says:

    Ah….another teacher who thinks that if we don’t do exactly as teachers say that our children will end up on welfare!

    What about all those teachers who don’t give homework? They don’t seem to think that all their students will be down and out losers when they grow up. Why are there teachers who would never dream of asking parents to report on their children’s lack of diligence or ask the children to hound their parents for a signature?

    And why has basic respect for children and families been abandoned by some teachers and school administrations?

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:30 pm
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  11. Disillusioned says:

    PsychMom and FedUp-well stated. Kelli- you state you are a high school english teacher. If your students can’t read by high school and (assuming they are freshman) have been in public school for approx. NINE years prior to being your students; it is the public school system that is failing them! It isn’t their slacker parents.

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:41 pm
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  12. PsychMom says:

    Honestly…it makes you wonder sometimes where teachers rate themselves in importance in the life of a child? Who’s more important teachers? You or me?

    Parental involvement is key…agreed. But signing a reading log does not signify much in the way of parental involvement, if you ask me. It’s teacher driven, school work. I chose not to do it….
    So what does that have to do with my child’s ability to read…..or better yet, her ability to succeed in life?

    October 20th, 2009 at 2:52 pm
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  13. zzzzz78759 says:

    Who are these so-called teachers who are posting on here?

    Honestly, if my daughter’s teacher ever told me to “get a grip” or called me a slacker, a loser, or some of the other names parents have been called here, I’d see that he/she was fired.

    That’s not an idle threat…one of the substitute teachers in my daughter’s school no longer subs there after she told my daughter to “get out of [her] face” for asking to go to the restroom.

    October 20th, 2009 at 4:00 pm
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  14. zzzzz78759 says:

    Kelli,

    I’ll ask you the same thing I’ve been asking the other teachers who don’t think I’m an unpaid employee of the school when I have to do homework with my daughter for 1-2 hours a night.

    Would you mind stopping by my office every night about 5:00 and doing my job for a couple of hours? It would really free up time so I could teach my daughter what her teacher didn’t have time for in school.

    October 20th, 2009 at 4:07 pm
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  15. why you want to know says:

    i dont see why you want to stop homework it gets kids to be responsible for themselves so dont stop homework give a little cuz when they grow up how will they learn to be responsible hu!!! and im 11

    October 22nd, 2009 at 3:57 pm
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  16. Anonymous says:

    im a 12 year old and i hate reading logs. Im hesitating to do it right now. UGH!!!!

    December 7th, 2009 at 7:09 pm
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  17. Joseph says:

    I’ll have to contest that.

    I think homework is vital to a student’s progress when assigned in moderation. You see, I’m a 20 year-old male, and I grew up in an area with some of the worst public education in the country. In high school, I only remember doing homework around 2-3 days a week, and never spent more than an hour or two each time. I only read five books at home through all my years in grade school, and now that I attend college, I’m starting to feel the effects of it. My reading comprehension is subpar and I struggle with reports. I’m just barely getting by with B’s and C’s, because if my GPA drops lower, I will lose my scholarship. This all could have been prevented if I had more homework in grade school!

    January 17th, 2010 at 6:13 am
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  18. PsychMom says:

    Forgive me Joseph, but what makes you think that more homework “in grade school” would have made such a big difference. There is nothing to prevent you from inproving your reading comprehension right now…in fact, if you were to invest 2 to 3 months right now on improving your reading and writing skills, the benefits will be greater than homework in Grade 5 would ever have been.

    I think the chances are greater that if you had had more homework in grade school, you would have found it frustrating, given up and would not be in college now at all. I think the drop out rates for young men who have difficulty with reading is high. Having effective teaching in the early years would have made a huge difference, but not homework.

    January 18th, 2010 at 8:43 am
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  19. HomeworkBlues says:

    Joseph, I suppressed a chuckle when I read your comment. Not because I am making light of your plight. I hear you and feel for you.

    My wry laugh is because my daughter is a ravenous reader and my heart breaks because homework steals so much time from her, she has such little time to read for pleasure.

    The irony here is homework limits learning, rather than promotes it. All my daughter ever wanted to do when she came home is read read read and what she got were useless worksheets that ate up vast chunks of her time with almost no educational value. You argue that more homework would have turned you into a better reader but for so many kids, homework just gets in the way.

    Joseph, you don’t need homework to prod you to read. I don’t know what kind of home you grew up in so I can’t comment on your upbringing. But more homework in high school does not make a great reader. Reading is cultivated in the early years. That’s not to say, as PsychMom asserts, that it’s all over for you. You can work hard on those skills now to better your reading comprehension and fluidity.

    Truth is, current reading instructional methodology in today’s public elementary schools does more to turn kids off to reading than on. Reading logs, tedious responses, timed mandatory daily reading, designing book covers: these all conspire to turn reading into a chore rather than a delicious escape that we bibliophiles treasure. At best, It turns kids into good compliant readers ,who will dutifully churn out the assignment and nothing more.

    There seems to be a misconception among pro-homework advocates that the absence of homework equals an absence of learning. Our family, for one, would have used that time to go to museums, libraries, nature centers and reading to abandon. You can learn every minute of your life. You do not need it spoon fed to you in your off time.

    Joseph, unwittingly, you wind up making an even stronger case for less homework. You see, so many students become so dependent on adult direction. If the teacher didn’t make you do it, you didn’t do it. We here are trying to raise self directed, self reliant resilient kids who ask questions and begin to discover where to go searching for the answers.

    Good luck to you, Joseph. Congratulations on your acceptance into college. You are still young and with hard work and determination, you can still rectify those early mistakes. I’m just so sorry you were cheated out of a quality education. Your teachers should have used their time better at school. You have demonstrated here what we all already suspect. That homework is used to mask a mediocre education and without homework, you didn’t get much of an education at all.

    January 18th, 2010 at 10:08 am
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  20. HomeworkBlues says:

    At best, it. Not It. No capital I. I added At best and forgot to change the I to an i.

    We just moved. I am sitting on the floor with the keyboard in my lap and the monitor to far away to read well. Waiting for the new computer desk to arrive.

    January 18th, 2010 at 10:13 am
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  21. HomeworkBlues says:

    Joseph, one more thought. I went back and re-read your comments. You support homework “when assigned in moderation.” Seminal words. The problem is, my daughter’s homework has never been “assigned in moderation.”

    And that is what fueled my rebellion. To steal FedUp’s moniker, I just got fed up. On free range kids, the Milley story got a lot of play. Some parents stated that they did not want to see homework obliterated, they felt that, as you say, “homework in moderation” should be the goal.

    My response? We tried that. It didn’t work! As Psych Mom wrote (don’t you love my memory? :), there is no Messy Middle.

    If we talked, if our voices were heard, if homework could be banned in elementary school with “homework in moderation” in high school complete with parent input, I’d be singing a different tune.

    Maybe some schools “assign homework in moderation.” Not ours. Which is why I take it upon myself to allow my daughter to blow off some assignments. If I can’t trust the school to do what is in the best interest of my child, I am going to take back my family. I applaud the Milleys and suggest more families screw up the courage to follow suit.

    January 18th, 2010 at 10:37 am
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  22. sarah says:

    it not write todo homework some peppol try todo it i say for homework hand a book out and tell thier teacher what it was about

    January 19th, 2010 at 5:37 pm
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  23. Anonymous says:

    In response to this…..”If your students can’t read by high school and (assuming they are freshman) have been in public school for approx. NINE years prior to being your students; it is the public school system that is failing them! It isn’t their slacker parents.”

    Really???? Walk a mile in my shoes. That is all I have to say. Obviously, you are a concerned parent that cares. I have dealt with so many that don’t. I bet you have been reading to your child all their life. I teach children that don’t have a single book in their home.

    April 13th, 2011 at 12:03 am
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  24. Disillusioned says:

    Doesn’t the school library have books? I am puzzled by this attitude amongst the defensive teachers who post here in regards to parents lack of school supplies or books. Doesn’t the school have programs to identify non-readers and effectivley engage them in a reading program? If a child spends six-eight hours a day in school shouldn’t one of the goals be to teach them to read within that time?

    April 14th, 2011 at 6:46 pm
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