Let’s Get Critical… About Resources

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.



  1. Yes, I’ve had the same feelings Sam, especially when photocopying. I have noticed places I’ve worked at over the years have got tighter re copies. Some even made us cover up any gaps on the outside of books to save toner, makes sense though. I’ve also seen teachers pack in as much as possible on a double-sided handout as possible. In the end the problem is that books aren’t meant to be copied, they are to be used and the only things we should be copying we could print i.e. our own materials. One repairman told me that the standard copier is only made for 12 copies at one time which is why they jam and overheat in schools.

    I convinced one boss to buy a class set of books which was useful as I can zip around whatever I wanted but I was surprised that nobody bought their own copy or even wanted copies of pages to talk home.

    1. Late reply a few posts down the line, but I’ve seen some fab creativity when the photocopier goes down. There should be a “broken copier” day at least once a month, oh, no, wait…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s