I wanted to write this post during the last week of school, but I’ll be completely honest: I was too tired. Once school officially ended, I kept telling myself “Tomorrow”. Again: I didn’t get around to it. Then, last week, one of those #edugurus tweeted that summer work packets were a waste of time. Needless to say, lots of teachers and teacher-parents chimed-in. Of course, I commented because I sent home packets with some of my students.
This past year I worked in a middle school, where the Hispanic student population is close to 50% of the school; I believe almost all of them speak both Spanish and English. What does that mean? It is likely their parents speak very little English or none at all. The students with an older sibling in the home have someone who can help with homework and translate for school matters. Those who are the oldest child in the home may have a harder time finding someone to help. These are things shared with me by both students and parents at meetings, in emails or texts; the latter two done through some translation app. Now, consider all of this in conjunction with having a diagnosed Learning Disability.
I know my students. I know their families. More importantly, I watched my students go from refusing to do any classwork/homework to being eager to complete it and submit it. It’s amazing how kids’ attitudes towards work change once they understand something. Because of the growth in confidence and understanding, I wanted to ensure that those who had to work harder for small gains, did not forget what they learned. I chose to give summer packets because some of my students need opportunities to continue practicing those skills without ‘needing’ help.
Because of that, I changed my mind: I am not going to defend providing summer packets. I am writing this so another teacher doesn’t second-guess their decision to provide their students with practice opportunities during the summer. Do what you believe is best for your students.