Blogs education special education Teaching

Are your resources holding you back?

This blog is, and I will say it now – a bit of a ramble, a shambolic collection of half baked ideas. It was triggered by a recent change in my life that has left me carting car loads of stuff to the tip. Moving boxes to one room to tidy another then back & years worth of accumulated things – how much have I ever actually used?

Stick with me here – Everytime a pile of stuff went into the crusher I felt a bit lighter, a bit freer like I could start moving forward. If we are surrounded by objects from the past it can either be a comfort, a memory of good times, or a reminder of things that have gone wrong, unfulfilled dreams. When we create physical space we also create mental space for new ideas.The future will always be influenced by things that have happened. To move forward we need to embrace those lessons, put a positive spin on and look to the great possibilities that are ahead.

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This got me thinking about my classroom, it is full of resources, laminated, velcro strewn activities collated over my career. Admittedly I have the odd cathartic end of year purge. Over the years I don’t know how much time Ive spent moving, sorting over the years. Most are well used and still useful, however there is that dull familiarity; a certain staleness I get when I look in the cupboard.

Is this stuff sapping a bit of creativity? Is the existence of these resources stopping me being better than I was when I made them? Are they stopping me getting out and doing lessons in the garden, the hall, the library because its easier to stay near were all the stuff is? On the flip side there is the time saved having to make these resources – anyone who has made a resource for special ed puts a lot of time and thought into it. Therefore we tend to want to keep it.

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But then there is the edtech clutter deemed essential to modern education. I have the whiteboard on the wall, wires leading to the computer, which I use to make lessons, run the interactive board, show videos, type reports, print worksheets (nooooo!!!). There is a camera for evidence, a pile of green screen equipment that will be used more next year (I promise), a drawer full of iPads, chromebooks etc, all of these things take time to learn, to set up, to maintain. Now don’t get me wrong I love tech, the student’s love it. However imagine if all this was stripped away, it was just you and the students, no distractions, you had to make do with what is around you.

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I love this image, teaching stripped back to the essentials. Until we face these conditions we should really not moan about budget cuts. There’s no tech, no heating just hats. This man is doing everything he can with little support to give these students the best education he is able.

Just 30 miles from my classroom this school has been set up with really limited resources and funds by Zimarco Jones to provide an education for those in desperate need of help, support, routine and normalcy.

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I know a lot of teachers will be going in to work, making displays, sorting out their resources. What are your priorities going to be. Are you a hoarder or do you like to start afresh each year?  Let me know in the comments. Thank you for making it to the end!

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15 comments

  1. Have to put my hand up to being a hoarder! You’re right – it’s the time and effort I put into making a resource that makes me loathe to ditch it. I’m much more willing to change an electronic resource in than something physical. I’ve learned that thinking about how many students will use a resource & what it’s lifespan will be is a good way of judging how much time I spend creating it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to think that saving everything brought me comfort, like a safety net under the high wire, but I recently purged so many things that I was saving just to save. As I examined years of slides, handouts, and assessments I realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher using some of this stuff that had severely diminished in quality over the years. Same mantra as cleaning out the clothes closet…if I hadn’t looked at or even thought about it in a year’s time, it probably isn’t the quality item it once was.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was a teacher hoarder. Although I’m no longer in the classroom, I’ve still got lots of stuff. I have given lots of it away to good classrooms, though – some here, and some made their way to Indonesia where I hope they’ll be of benefit to teachers and students. The photos of those two classrooms makes me stop and take stock (of a different kind). Thank you for the reminder of our privilege.

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