16 January 2009

Homework Policy

My school has policies and paperwork for everything. The new principal has decreed that we cannot even get a roll of tape without filling out a form and getting approval of the department chair and an administrator. In order to get new tape I have to explain how the use of this resource will help improve student performance, write a proposal, and get it signed twice. Next year she might require it to be notarized as well. I think she has a goal to keep us from teaching. Instead we spend all of our time filling out forms. Forms to get copies made, forms to get a red pen, forms to get materials from the library, forms to get a new box of paper clips, forms to fill out if you are late for work, forms to fill out if you are on time for work, forms for failing a student, forms for getting new forms... (I'm not even exaggerating for the sake of making the point. She really makes us fill out forms to get new forms.)

In an unprecedented event, the principal decided to share her policy making power. She declared that each department needed to have an official homework policy in writing, and she would even let us come up with it on our own. My department chair did what she always does when we get a new assignment from the principal: she gave it to me to do.

I decided not to reinvent the wheel and just write out the policy that I have been using for the last three years. I arrived at this homework philosophy through much thought, contemplation, and research. I have found that it serves me (and the kids) quite well:

They don't want to do it, I don't want to grade it, at the end of the semester they all have to be passing anyway, so I usually just don't give it.

After I typed that out I decided that the principal probably wouldn't approve this policy, so I translated it into more education friendly terms that she could relate to:

Homework grades will be given for assignments that extend and reinforce daily work and help students prepare for formal assessments.

So far she hasn't noticed that this policy in no way requires me to assign homework on a regular basis.


jacob said...

Too bad there isn't an application form that you could fill out to file for form filing exemption.

Did your new principal used to work for the IRS? They also have a pretty ambitious form policy.

Heather said...

Very clever.
Maybe you can help me fill out my forms for my dietetic portfolio...I'm running out of ways to say "I will use the knowledge I have learned from (insert class, journal article title or health conference here) to educate clients and encourage them to develop healthy eating habits.