A few years back, we instituted four homework free weekends (HFW) during the year, one for each term. In their original proposal, our Faculty Council stated: “As a goodwill gesture to students and their families, who experience stress due to our school’s rigorous homework expectations, all classroom teachers will adopt as a one-year pilot proposal a homework-free weekend program…”
This is now our third year, and Columbus Day weekend is our first homework free weekend of the year!
Like most things in life, where a general concept that seems simple enough can get quite complex when details are examined, there has been some confusion about the finer points of our homework free weekend policy. I’m going to try to clarify a few items, so my apologies for getting very specific and a tad wordy.
1. The point of the exercise is that students will have no homework due on the day that we return from the HFW. There will be no tests or quizzes on the return day. In addition, in the spirit of the weekend, the homework should not simply be added to another night’s homework.
2. Homework can certainly be assigned to be completed on the evening of the return day, even if the assignment is given before the HFW. For example, our first day back after this coming weekend is a Tuesday. A and B block do not meet on Tuesday, but there can be homework on Tuesday evening for Wednesday’s A and B block classes. So as these classes meet on Friday, prior to the HFW, teachers can assign a normal length homework assignment to be completed Tuesday evening in preparation for Wednesday’s class. (For Thanksgiving’s homework free weekend, when we return on a Monday, similar conditions would exist for G block.)
3. And a this-year-only exception: due to quirks of our schedule and Thursday’s (October 9th) professional development half-day, E block meets Wednesday (October 8th) and then not again until Tuesday (October 14th). In order to maintain continuity, E block teachers can either:
- assign a normal homework assignment Wednesday evening (October 8th) to be turned in on Thursday (either electronically or to the teacher’s classroom), or
- assign a two-part homework assignment, due Wednesday, October 15th, with the idea that students would complete part one of the assignment prior to the HFW, and part two of the assignment on the evening of Tuesday, October 14.
As you may have heard, we are also working on our collective common practice with regards to the purpose and amount of assigned homework. We will be developing departmental guidelines for homework during Thursday’s professional development time.
It is our hope that these homework free weekends will allow families to plan events or trips accordingly, and will help our students know that we, the adults here at South, understand that it can be a challenge to maintain a healthy balance. These weekends will give all of us a chance to pause, breathe, and gather ourselves.