Bookwork Expectations are important!
Teachers’ beliefs about their students and what they can achieve have a substantial impact on students’ learning and progress. Research has consistently shown that teachers with high expectations have students who make accelerated, rather than normal, progress. Having high book work expectations will foster pride and respect for learning among students. It will also help students develop positive attitudes about themselves as capable learners.
Just as it is important to establish your classroom rules and procedures at the beginning of the year (read more about that here), it is just as important to establish your expectations when it comes to bookwork. Students’ bookwork often provides a window into the classroom. It is a way for parents to see the progress of their children throughout the year. It is also a way for students to gauge their own progress. Students may use their book work as a form of revision. Bookwork is also a way to show progress and the development of student learning. Student book work can also be used in teacher evaluation.
How to set high bookwork expectations
It is important to establish expectations at the beginning of the school year. It is also important to refer to these expectations throughout the year, to reinforce the expectation. Just as it is important to engage the students in a discussion about the rules and procedures for the classroom, so too is it important to include them in a discussion about bookwork expectations.
Once you have discussed the bookwork expectations as a class, students should receive a printed bookwork expectations poster. This should include an example of what is expected. Have students glue them on the inside cover of each book. It is also a good idea to enlarge and display this poster at the front of the classroom. By doing this, you can constantly refer to it and use it as a visual reminder of what you expect to see in their books.
Some teachers don’t value book work. They feel that it places constraints on students’ creativity. They also feel that it detracts from valuable learning opportunities. However, Dr. Christine Rubie-Davis found during her research that teachers with high expectations employ more effective teaching practices. Basically, students who are given more advanced opportunities to learn, show more progress. “The positive attitudes and equitable teaching practices of high expectation teachers also lead to higher levels of engagement, motivation, and self-efficacy in students”.
Provide feedback on bookwork
I have always placed a big emphasis on book work. Discipline is really important, especially if the school you are working at is in a low-socioeconomic area. And while kids may huff and puff initially, they eventually begin to see the importance of it. I’ve actually had kids who have stopped me and said how proud they were of their work. As the year progresses, I also put the ownership back on the students. If their pages are not as they should be, I ask them if they’re proud of what is in front of them. I ask them if they believe it matches our class expectations. I’ve only had to rip two pages out in my teaching career. And after each of those separate occasions, the student’s habits and opinions changed.
Regular feedback of children‟s bookwork will allow reflection on their progress and provide a supportive, encouraging framework for improvement. Teachers should acknowledge or mark each piece of student work. It is also important for teachers to model the correct handwriting, numerals, and presentation. Remember the standard you set is the standard you get.
Do you value neat bookwork from your students?
Have you implemented bookwork expectations in your class?
What other strategies do you use?
Rubie-Davies, C. (2008). Expecting success: Teacher beliefs and practices that enhance student outcomes. Saarbrücken: Verlog Dr. Muller.
Rubie-Davies, C. (2014). Becoming a high expectation teacher: Raising the bar. Hoboken: Routledge