How Teachers Can Help

Students can build good habits and break bad ones on their own, if they are determined. But success rates rise dramatically when they get support from teachers, parents, and friends.

So what can teachers do to help?

Require students to write their assignments in a homework diary.

This simple act works wonders. The key is for teachers to require it, not simply remind or nag. Teachers who have the bad habit of shouting out the homework assignment as the lesson is ending and students are packing up encourage students to develop the bad habit of not writing down their assignments. Students who don’t write down the assignment are much more likely to forget it, or to remember it incorrectly.

Instead, teachers should develop some good habits that will help their students develop good habits. Give out the homework assignment before the end of the lesson, and provide time for students to take out their diaries and copy it down. When students are working, move around the room and check homework diaries. Praise those who have written down the assignment; remind those who haven’t, and watch while they do it. Do this every day: daily repetition builds habits.

With a very small investment of class time, teachers can dramatically improve their students’ performance. Not only will students complete your homework assignments—they will develop an essential good habit that will serve them well for years.

Try it. Then, when you see what a difference one teacher’s efforts can make, enlist your colleagues and make this a school-wide initiative.

Author: Eric MacKnight

I have been teaching English since 1980 in the United States, Morocco, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, The Netherlands, and China. Good Habits, Good Students is my first book.

2 thoughts on “How Teachers Can Help”

  1. I like your comments, especially the suggestion of ensuring students keep a journal/diary/notebook where they record their homework for every class. My school provides a planner for each student where they record the main events of the class and the homework assignment. Consequences are consistently enforced when students do not complete their homework, if they arrive late to class (without a pass), or if they came without the materials expected for the class. It has made a difference, and seems to have increased the number of students who are motivated to achieve.

  2. Hi Joel. I couldn’t agree more. If the school will help students form the habit of using a homework diary in Grades 6-10, they will be so much better prepared to deal with the heavy workloads and pressure of Grades 11 and 12. Unfortunately, many students struggle in the upper grades because of their poor habits and lack of organization skills. Thanks for your comment.

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