Courtney White is a high school teacher in Alvarado, Texas, who never assigns homework.
She recently sparked a debate on TikTok after explaining her stance on not assigning homework.
Some commenters called her "lazy," while others said she was "teacher of the year."
The English teacher spoke to Insider about why she doesn't think homework works and said that students deserve more time to be a kid.
Video: 31 of the coolest pre-pandemic jobs in the world
Courtney White, a high school English teacher, wants her students to have time to be a kid.
"I just remember being a student trying to juggle all these things," the 27-year-old teacher in Alvarado, Texas, told Insider.
The list of what her students juggle is extensive: after-school jobs, taking care of siblings, worrying about finding their next meal, sports practice, or band rehearsal
In order to give her students extra time for those tasks, she doesn't assign homework.
After posting a TikTok video about her philosophy on homework, the teacher sparked a contentious debate on whether homework is a necessity.
The teacher believes that homework doesn't work in her classroom
"There's no proof that homework is going to make them better students in my class," White said in a TikTok video.
White is in her fourth year of teaching, and she said she's never assigned homework. In conversations with students, she told Insider that she's heard that homework isn't always a valuable tool.
"If you talk to kids, they'll tell you, 'Oh, I Googled it' or 'Oh, I got the answers from a friend' or 'I didn't have time because I was doing 800 other things I should be doing instead of being a kid,'" she told Insider. "If it wasn't going to be done meaningfully at home, then it really is not serving its true purpose."
Instead, she focuses on time inside the classroom. She said she's constantly assessing her students to make sure she's teaching effectively and they're grasping the concepts.
While White doesn't assign homework, she told Insider that if a student wants more practice, she'll send them home with optional work.
If they want extra tutoring, she'll meet with them to review concepts.
And if a student doesn't finish their work in class, it will go home — but that hasn't happened yet, she said.
White added that it's her decision as an educator to not assign homework. Her students are still going home with homework from different classes.
"Education is not just a one-size-fits-all," she said.
The teacher posted a lighthearted video about not assigning homework, but she was surprised by the negative feedback
When White uploaded the first TikTok video about not assigning homework, she said she initially didn't think much before posting it.
Then negative comments started coming in.
"Isn't homework practice to make sure they're actually learning?" one user questioned. White said others commented that she was "lazy" and that she was "not preparing her students for the real world." However, she said she deleted some of the negative comments to keep her platform positive.
"I was shocked that people were giving negative reactions to it because in my mind everyone would be like, 'Yeah! No homework,'" she told Insider.
She responded to the negative comments with a video that quickly garnered over 4.5 million views.
Reply to @tafgarcia Me not assigning homework, doesn’t make me any less of a teacher. My kids show me mastery of content in class. ##teachersoftiktok
"Some of them are going home and taking care of their younger siblings because their parents are at work. Some of them just need to go home and sleep. Some of them have to go home and worry about how they're going to eat because there's no food at their house," White said in the video.
"So, if I also give them hours of homework, when do they have time to be kids? When do they have time to relax? Because when you get off of work, you want to go home and relax," she said.
White told Insider that she was feeling mad and agitated when she made the second TikTok video.
"I knew these were comments that were coming from people who are not in education, who have no idea what teachers are doing or what students are going through," she told Insider. "It's so hard for me not to jump and defend myself and defend my students."
With the negative feedback came uplifting comments, too
After White posted the video, some students, families, and other teachers also commented in support of White's philosophy.
Reply to @officialhawks0 the positivity is really appreciated! I really do love my job and I’m trying me best to make sure my students succeed in life. 💕
Positive responses quickly flooded the comment section. "Teacher of the year," someone wrote. Another user commented, "we need more teachers like you."
Additionally, White told Insider that a handful of parents found her on Instagram and left meaningful words of encouragement.
So far, she said her favorite moment this school year was receiving an email from a student's mother. The student had switched from in-person to virtual learning and was no longer in White's classroom.
The mother shared that her son "felt like he was cared for in my class, and not just that he was another student."
"It made me cry," White said.
White wants to remind everyone that education is not just a one-size-fits-all scenario
White told Insider that she hopes everyone can take a step back and realize what students, teachers, and families are going through right now.
At the end of the day, she said it's about, "being able to find something that works for your students, so you can advocate for them, stand up for them to make sure that their voices are heard and that they're mentally OK every day."
In the meantime, she doesn't plan to assign homework anytime soon.
"They're 14 and 15 years old — they need time to be kids," she told Insider.
If you're a teacher, student, or parent who wants to share their story on what it's like to go back to school right now, get in touch at email@example.com.
Read the original article on Insider