Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are Resources a Luxury in Today's Classroom?

I’m constantly torn with the thought that having more resources and technology in my classroom will make it all better.  What do I mean by make it all better? Better student achievement scores, attendance and engagement increases, and students like coming to school.  With the economy in the state it is, I think most of  “resources” will be on the back burner for a while, but I can hope for a couple of things. Well, for starters, new books! All students love new books. Have you ever seen how they gravitate to the newest book on the shelf or in the stack. Heck, who can blame them, we all like new things.  So just having the correct and current resources might be a bonus. Secondly, will that laptop, iPad, or Smartboard help my teaching? Certainly, it will bring more information to my student’s and my fingertips more quickly (time warp: remember the old card catalogs…right?). They will be more engaged in what they are learning because they will have the tools they like to use. Lastly, just think of all the paper we will be saving? (Just kidding, research has shown that we use more paper now, then before technology because we print everything off, is that you?) Maybe we can skip that printed progress report and report card?

OK, so better might not be the right word choice (ha, a little writing instruction in the middle of the summer, who would have thought!) But, I’m not totally convinced the above will make me happier or that we can do without any of it. I believe I still accomplish all of the above even with a lack of resources on a daily basis. I just recently found out that my daughter who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa teaching secondary English had some of the highest scores and passing rate for her students.  She definitely lacks resources more than any teacher in America could dream of (think electricity, books, and water.)

So, with that in mind, here is my hit list of things that can keep you going without those gadgets and such you are convinced you need to be a successful teacher:

1.     Be passionate!  Let’s face it, if you don’t like what you are doing the students will know it.
2.     Smile! A smile will make you feel better and make the students feel better.
3.     Delegate! Don’t be afraid to let your students be an integral part of the classroom mechanics.
4.     Choices! Give plenty of choices to your students on how they complete work and give choices to yourself on how you teach and run your classroom.
5.     High Expectations! Have high expectations for your students, their parents, and yourself.  You may not be the most liked teacher on campus, but you will be respected!
6.     Set time limits! Go home, enjoy life, and take up a hobby other than school.
7.     Be Curious!  Look at your students and the world around you with new eyes.
8.     Ask Away! Don’t be afraid to ask for things, from your administrators, your parents, or organizations that support education, the worst they can do is say no!
9.     Plan Ahead! Make sure you plan ahead for the week, month, semester or year. You can always change your mind and you will feel better each day knowing what you need to do.
10. Just Say No!  Don’t over-commit yourself to committees, clubs, etc. In the long run, what you do in the classroom, with your students is all that matters.
Teach Away and have fun!


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