Homework is one of the ways that teachers test how well their students learned the lesson. Did they retain the right information? What are their key takeaways? What insights did they manage to arrive at when they were coming up with the assignment? Seasoned teachers know that once in a while, an excellent student comes along who provides answers with their research and insight, which makes conversations enriching and meaningful. However, for a majority of the students, homework can be a source of stress, especially if the subjects are not of interest.
One of the major concerns is ensuring that students do not take undue stress because of the homework given to them. Here are a few steps adopted by our teachers:
The best teachers know and recognise that there are different learning styles. Children who respond to visual stimuli, for instance, might not be as good at picking up information through mere lectures. A kinesthetic learner will need hands-on experience for a better learning experience. That means simply giving out a problem will not work, since some students need more than that to get the gist or idea of the assignment. By offering examples, though, teachers make it easier for the children to understand what they’re meant to do and how they’re supposed to go about the task. When teachers include examples, that reduces the chances r students asking you for further clarification about the assignment reduces, paving the way for more interactive sessions. The examples help parents understand what their children are supposed to do. If the parents help the children with those assignments or guide them through the tasks, those examples can save time and effort,while making lessons more engaging.
It’s never a good idea to give out homework just to keep the children busy. At GIIS Dubai, we know that’s not the right logic to have! We encourage our teachers to ask themselves: is there a valid reason why the children are required to undertake the task? What are those reasons? Are they using that homework to complete the topics because exam season is coming? Or are they giving out homework as a consequence to take an engaging conversation forward? The best reasons for assigning homework are enhancing a students’ grasp of the subject or improving their level of knowledge. We highly discourage teachers to use homework as a means of punishment or to complete tasks.
The global pandemic has affected many families, and we understand that some of our students and families might be one of those affected. Home assignments in such stressful times can add to the stress. Just because they’re at home doesn’t mean that they have the freedom to spend all that time in front of their laptops studying or working on assignments. Some of them might be helping out at home. Some of their parents might have been laid off from work. Some of them might be stressed or worried or trying to make ends meet by working while studying. While we know that it is not possible to eliminate homework, our parent-teacher interaction helps to know and address these issues. We want to protect our students from the risk of exposure, and we encourage teachers to understand the restrictions each child faces.
The importance of assessing the hard work of a child cannot be undermined. It is important to let students at schools in Dubai know that the school and teachers value the work they’ve put into the project. It is important to make them understand why that homework matters, how much of its percentage will make up their final grade and what it tells you about what they learned. Use that assignment to provide them with feedback. Important questions to be discussed with the students include - Does their work show any progress? What areas can they improve on? Praise their effort and progress while pointing out weaknesses and areas that need improvement.
There’s a way to offer feedback to strengthen the resolve and encourage the students even more. Positive feedback succeeds in motivating students to work harder to achieve their academic goals. That’s the kind of feedback teachers are taught at GIIS Dubai to hand out. Teachers can accomplish that by being positive about their approach. Being honest about feedback doesn't mean teachers need to be brutal. Point out their weaknesses but build them back up again. Don’t step all over their ego. A good teacher recognises that children have complex emotions. It is important to treat them with respect, a student has joined the school to learn, and so they are going to be mistakes.
Too many children have trouble keeping track of their assignments and managing their time. These students end up cramming and doing their homework at the very last minute. Teachers play an important role in helping such students improve by teaching them the value of being organised. Talk about the importance of doing a timeline where they could set daily and weekly deadlines to help them finish their tasks and assignments on time. A calendar of their project deadlines will be handy in assisting them to stay on top of things. With these tips, students won’t end up stressed out because they’re late for another project or assignment.
Open and respectful conversations between teachers and students is highly encouraged. Teachers can discuss study habits with students. Do they study for hours on end? Do they sit at their desk going from one chapter to another without stopping? That might be why some of them have a hard time retaining information. Encourage them to take breaks. Make them realise the importance of breaks and how these improve their concentration levels. Breaks also improve blood circulation, which helps them stay fit and healthy.
The underlying stress in students can arise from an unhealthy lifestyle. Teachers at good schools in Dubai will ask their students - Are they eating well? If they’re subsisting on junk food, that could be another reason why they’re stressed. Their meals might not provide them with enough sustenance. Our teachers discuss these issues candidly with the student's parents. The right diet helps children a lot, especially growing children. Healthy, nutritious meals keep them healthy and alert, which help them get their assignments done with ease. If the children eat too late, or always insist on getting fast food, talk to the parents about that habit to see what can be changed. Maybe you can encourage them to take healthier snacks. And, of course, it is important that the students are taking adequate exercise.
The pandemic has affected plenty of families all over the world. We understand that some of our student’s family might be among them. Teachers should reach out to the children in their class. Ask them how they’re doing. Are they all right? How is their family? Are they stressed? Are they having trouble understanding any of the class lessons? Or maybe they’re having a hard time adjusting to the changes? Find out. Teachers are amongst the first to notice the signs of stress in students and they need to get to the bottom of that!
Teachers want their children to succeed. They need to be there to provide support and help. Ask them if they need that support and assistance right now!