At the beginning of the year, there's that old line about "don't smile until January." That particular strategy probably won't work out for you. But, it is an important time to decide what's important with each prep you have.

For a variety of reasons, I haven't given homework really ever. Even when I switched to PreAP preps last year I didn't see the need. I have certain goals for Pre-Calculus in mind and homework didn't seem necessary to meeting that goal.

This year marks the start of what I want to become a successful program. The 71 Calculus students I have are 93% returning faces.

You might think I created a problem. It's a big group who just a spent a year without math homework. Surely I've killed their work ethic and dug myself into a ditch. The old "how are you preparing them for college" argument.

A flaw in that argument is that expectations have to be built over decades. To make a student properly understand the demands of college, they must be held to the demands of college starting in 4th grade. I think that's silly. If you communicate expectations and communicate WHY you have those expectations your students will adapt.

Whatever your class, the first couple weeks is where you can mold whatever expectations you want, regardless of what a previous course/instructor required of them.

My kids didn't have homework last year. This year they (barely) do. I communicated that. I design the assignment to be short and purposeful to show I respect their time. In Pre-Cal they used their notebooks on all their tests. In Calculus they can't. I communicated that and explained why.

Students of any age will play along if they believe what you're selling.

AuthorJonathan Claydon