Help! It's only the fourth week of school and one of my homeroom kids is already way behind on his math assignments. I am only his homeroom teacher and not his math teacher but for some reason it is up to me to follow up with this child and his parents and make sure the message is getting across that this is not ok. Our school does not offer any before, during or after school detention. What is another alternative for getting this child to get assignments finished and turned in on time. He is a fifth grader and almost seems to be slipping backwards with his behavior. I am so frustrated. This is going to be a very long year if he keeps this up. Also, Mom and Dad are in denial that there is a problem. She wants me to "check in his binder" maybe he just forgets to turn it in. I checked - nothing.

I would start by looking at the nature of the homework assignments. Can this student complete them independently? Are they meaningful and enjoyable? Can they be completed relatively quickly? Then I would ask if the student has the time, space and support (if necessary, although homework should be aimed at the independence level) to complete the tasks. If we haven't set up homework so that students can be successful, then it seems like detention would be an unfair conseqence for something that might not be under the student's control.

Are you having trouble with him in your class turning in assignments? It seems unfair that if you don't have the same problem, then it shouldn't be your responsiblity, but the math teachers to contact the parents to solve the problem. Keep the parents informed that assignments were not found in his binder. He's a 5th grader!! You should not have to search his stuff for the assignment. Okay, I've rambled on enough!!

I think you hit it when you said "meaningful and enjoyable." I have looked at the assignments and they are neither. Also, I am not the math teacher but if I were I might consider adapting the lessons. I don't know how this child does on his math tests, but if he gets it without all the homework........ Thanks for the advice!

Yes, this situation is hard to influence, since you are not the one assigning the homework. Do you have any type of relationship with the math teacher? Is there any way to raise the question about the appropriateness of the homework? If not, can you get any support from others (colleagues/administrators) without coming off as superior or trying to blame your colleague?

I wouldn't give detention for not doing assignments -- not doing assignments comes with an automatic consequence, i.e. a zero and the chance of failing the class. Do any other students in your homeroom have this same math teacher? Are they having trouble doing the homework? It seems premature to assume that the trouble is the homework and not the student. This student may have difficulty with math and/or organization. I think you run the risk of making enemies if you involve administrators in the math teacher's homework assignments based on the performance of one student. My first year of teaching (7th grade English), I had a second-year guidance counselor observe me and give me teaching tips based on the fact that one of my students had called my class boring. I was highly offended and confused as to why she even felt comfortable critiquing my teaching, and she was reprimanded for it. I've found the best way to get students to do work is to show a lot of concern. Ask about it in a nice way every time you see him. Congratulate him when he does well on a math assignment. Suggest that he and mom do the homework together (with student doing the work and mom watching/encouraging) and that they buy a nice new binder and holepuncher to keep him organized. Give him some cool stickers to put on his binder.

Thanks! I found your comments insightful and refreshing. I will try "killing him with kindness." As far as mom and dad go, I don't think they have the time or concern to add much value, unfortunately. Also, he isn't my math student but he is my Language Arts student and he has a couple of late assignments in my class too.

Hello, Does the student have a plan for organization? I mean does he have a folder which he can put all of his assignments into daily and it's written down what he needs to do? It helps me to use a daily planner to decide how i'm going to do things throughout the day, why not try a daily planner for the student? Have you tried a simple task checklist that he can refer to so there aren't arguments on what he needs to do? He could be reinforced with a simple reward if he does what's in the planner on a daily basis. Is the homework practice something he has difficulty? Does the family value "education" at all? If you find that the family doesn't put a priority on education, then you will have trouble motivating the student. aspieteacher

He has a planner which he doesn't use even though we make time in each class for them to write down their assignments. Also, he lies to his teachers and his parents and then pits us against each other. I don't believe a thing he tells me anymore, for ex. on Friday we had a brief study hall time and he told me all of his work was done. I said I didn't think so and let's go check with his math and science teachers. Sure enough, he had 3 outstanding math and 2 science to get done! Also, his mom picked him up after school and when I told her what had happened she said she had dropped him off early to get his math done - we never saw him. I am trying really hard to accentuate the positive and not be just another negative adult in his life. So far, he and I remain friends. I try to reassure him that I am on his side and want to help him become more organized and responsible. It's only on this forum that I voice my negative thoughts. Thanks for your ideas! I will try anything with this guy!

We have a school plan for grades 4-8. Any time I student does not hand in homework they receive an OOPS slip. The slip is to be signed by a parent (guardian) and returned to school the next day. Failure to return the slip results in another OOPS slip. After 3 slips with a teacher (each teacher keeps their own records) the student is assigned detention. Students are not allowed to do assignments during detention. But they are to be assigned written work. I have an assignment about responsible that I leave. We use the same system for behavior, unless the behavior involves cheating, stealing, disrespect to a teacher or another student. We do have some students who serve numerous detentions and don't seem to care. However, most students are very conscientious after they have received 1 OOPS slip.