We had a meeting at Oldest Son's school on Wednesday, to talk about his problems getting homework turned in and what we could do about it.
All the teachers talked about what they see happening in their classes. They all stated some variation of "Oldest understands the material, but he's not doing his homework". We talked for a while, and the conversation converged around "Oldest needs to use a planner to keep track of his work."
The meeting started to wind down, and I realized that while there was a consensus that proper use of a planner would solve many problems, there was no clear set of actions.
So I said: I see we're winding down and before we end, I want to be clear about what is happening next. We're all in agreement that if Oldest uses a planner properly, it will address most of the problems he's having. However, we've made multiple attempts in the past to have Oldest use a planner, and it's never succeeded. In fact, the only real successes we've had with Oldest and homework have happened when there was someone sitting next to him prompting him on every single step. The teachers were surprised to hear that. So I was extra glad to have mentioned it.
It will be great if the planner works, but we need to be prepared for the possibility that it won't work. How are we going to tell if it works, and how long are we going to try it before deciding that it does or doesn't work? We need to decide quickly, because if it doesn't work there isn't much time before school is out to find another solution.
After some conversation we agreed to try the planner for one week. I asked what, exactly, was Oldest supposed to do, and what exactly were the teachers going to do. We agreed that Oldest would show his planner to each teacher at the end of class, they would verify that he had correctly written down the work he needed to do, and that they would note in their gradebooks that they had reviewed his planner.
The whole process reminded me of things that I do at work. When we are decided what piece of software we are going to write next, we decide on the acceptance criteria--how we will know if the work is actually done. And who is going to do what to demonstrate the the criteria have been met.
Oldest is on spring break next week. When classes start back up, I'm going to arrange to come into school once a week and see what is happening. If you show up, the teachers and administrators take you much more seriously, and it is easier to get what you want from them.