Every Christmas, I find myself watching Love Actually. It’s a family tradition so don’t judge me. The consequence of watching a film so many times is that the dialogue sticks around in your brain.
There’s a scene where Bill Nighy’s character is being interviewed for a kids T.V. show and he decides to address the camera directly, “Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!”
Although I disagree with Bill’s sentiment, this is my attempt to make a similar statement about teaching resources. Don’t buy them off the internet. That’s not what your own private money is for. You should either be getting them for free or you should be developing them as part of your job and in collaboration with your colleagues.
Firstly, resources you can buy on the internet are mostly rubbish. Just imagine spending money on these wordsearches. I shudder. If you do find a resource that you think is halfway decent then it won’t quite fit with your course or teaching approach in some way. So you will have spend time adapting it. Which defeats the purpose a little.
Instead, try a couple of methods. Get hold of a textbook. Even if you’re in one of those (usually maths) departments where textbooks are contraband, you’ll probably find some old ones lurking in a cupboard somewhere. If you absolutely must then I condone buying a textbook, but at least try to get the money back from your school.
Textbooks vary in quality but they generally have a clear structure and have been thought through by someone with experience. You might perhaps worry that the textbook approach is less engaging than the genocide card game that you can download for a few dollars but here’s the thing: you are not a clown, you are a teacher. Students need to learn stuff from your lessons.
The other approach that you should try in tandem with using a textbook is to collaborate with your colleagues. If you are the only teacher of a particular subject in your school then you can do this across schools.
You need to be organised, knowing weeks in advance what needs to be produced. I am sure that many resources are downloaded on a Sunday night to fill a hole on Monday morning, so map your lessons out. This will help you in many, many ways.
Then divide up the work. Set deadlines well in advance and hold each other to account. Ideally, your head of department or someone senior will organise this. But some leaders don’t see this as part of their role, preferring to utter jargon-laden phrases about ‘going forward’. If that’s the case, take action at the troops level.
Of course, your colleagues might not do it quite to your liking. So you will either have to wear that or tweak their stuff. Regardless, you haven’t shelled out your hard-earned cash for the privilege.
So don’t buy resources off the internet. We must take ourselves more seriously as a profession rather than being stooges to be fleeced by opportunistic chancers.