A Third Grade Teacher Speaks Out

I received an email from a third grade teacher in Mesa, Arizona. With her permission (I never post emails without explicit permission), I share it with you.

As a Family, We Always Set Reasonable Limits for the Amount of Time We chose to Devote to School-related Activity
by a Third Grade Teacher

For the past 15 years homework has been a frustration to me. I teach third grade and truly resent the expectation that I will plan educational activities for my students to complete outside of the school day. This is time that could be much better spent working with my learners. The only real benefit that could result from homework in early grades is possibly to develop consistent study habits kids will need later on. With a lot of help, the learners may be able to start breaking down larger tasks into manageable parts. Since most parents feel pretty strongly they want homework, I advise them to use a timer and set it for 5 minutes. When it goes off, the activity is to be put away. On the other hand, it is generally a good thing to avoid procrastination, so students are also supposed to use beginning time management and develop a schedule based on their other activities through the week. Really though, for kids up through grade 4, reading aloud and being read to is still the gold standard.

My own two children have special needs, so we never experienced the bordem factor. But what I have told parents with this concern is this: If your student consistently rushes through work then it has clearly not been attended to in the standard I require in class. To me it really doesn’t matter how much work a student can complete within a study session. But whatever they do, it should be with focused attention and best efforts-and the student should remain on some learning task throughout the assigned time period.

As for my children, the same rule applied. As a family we always set reasonable limits for the amount of time we chose to devote to school-related activity. And sometimes this had to be modified. I do want to share this with your parents who suffer homework tears and frustration. Below is a summary of what I have written and turned in to my principal and every one of the childrens’ teachers (who also happened to be colleagues):

Dear Teacher,

We value your dedication to your class and applaud you for maintaining high expectations for student achievement. We have read and understand your homework policy.

Note that per our child’s IEP support services recommendations and in response to our family’s need, we wish to advise you we may not always elect to complete requested assignments or homework, especially on weeknights.

We acknowledge our choices may result in missing assigments negatively impacting outcome scores. We understand that you are required to evaluate students against grade level standards. You have our full support to record our child’s progress according to your professional judgement.

6 thoughts on “A Third Grade Teacher Speaks Out

  1. Gutsy….and clearly a parent who is looking out for her childrens’ best interests. I really like how she treats reading to one’s children as a “gold standard”. I wonder, what kind of feedback does she get from her children’s teachers? We so often hear from teachers that they are “not allowed” to do exactly what this teacher does…so how does she do it? Has she received negative feedback from collegues?


  2. I think the point that this teacher has made, that she resents being expected to spend time formulating work for her students to do OUTSIDE of classroom time, is also a crucial one. Teachers have enough to do making sure the 5-6 hours they have with students is filled with useful learning. They don’t have tome to worry about homework!


  3. And PyschMom, we could write a TOME on why teachers shouldn’t be spending so much TIME planning our afternoons and evenings! Better that time is spent on planning classroom time.

    Couldn’t resist! πŸ™‚


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