Next time you go to a class, or training session, do a little stock take.
Just before you print, have a look at your resources. I’m assuming that, as a professional, they are well made and attractive, and show a range of lifestyles and ethnic groupings.
Smile, and enjoy your lovely work. After all it probably took you a good amount of time to prepare.
Then look again more critically.
Ask yourself this: how much actual learning will occur as a result of using this resource? Could I achieve that learning as well (or better) without it?
If the answer to the last question is “yes” then don’t press print. I’m thinking of lessons where every learner has the same picture printed in expensive colour ink while an interactive whiteboard stands empty in the background; or lessons where the teacher painstakingly creates a weekly diary of two imaginary people for a speaking activity when they have a room full of actual real people, if not with diaries, then at least lives they could put into one. I’m thinking of those lessons where there is a new piece of paper for every single stage of the lesson.
And double siding doesn’t excuse you either. This isn’t about saving paper, although that is a bonus.
Look at the handout. Is it actually useful as a revision tool? Does it work better than just having the content displayed, drawn, or failing that just printed once and held up? Does it work better than using ideas and content generated by the learners?
If the answer is yes, then print and copy. But I reckon about 70% of bits of paper in ESOL classrooms could be avoided if we looked at it just a bit more carefully and critically.
And if you’re really unconvinced , simply ask yourself, “what would I do if I didn’t have it? Would it be a worse lesson?”
Or if you feel really brave, just walk in without it.
You might surprise yourself.