Homework is an important and commonly expected part of students’ out-of-class learning internationally; however, homework practices as experienced by teachers are little understood. This study draws on the experiences of two English language teachers working in primary schools in Hong Kong to explore how standardized homework practices affect their teacher autonomy, an integral part of teacher professionalism and an essential factor underlying teachers’ professional practice. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with two teachers and samples of students’ homework the participants assigned. Analysis of the data revealed that standardized homework practices do affect the teachers’ autonomy. However, they affected the two teachers differently, with one teacher feeling suffocated and unable to be the kind of teacher she wanted to be, while the other saw the practices as normal and part of her role to deliver the homework as prescribed. The data suggest that these differences can be attributed to the teachers’ professional beliefs about their schools’ standardized homework practices and their role as a teacher. Aspects of the teachers’ teaching experiences, own educational experiences, professional development, and cultural norms were explored to justify the effect of the practice on their autonomy. The article concludes with practical implications and a call for more research to be conducted on teachers’ homework practices, which are widespread yet under-researched.
- Homework practices
- Standardized practices
- Primary school teachers’ homework practices
- Teacher autonomy
- Hierarchical decision-making structures