There’s a kind of blog post I sometimes read where the blogger makes an essay of excuses for why they haven’t blogged in a while. The explanations are always legitimate, plainly so, and plain too. And I have often wondered if I could avoid writing such a blog post, if I so happen to neglect my blog for a long period of time.
Like I have done.
So instead of writing the Explanation-for-why-I’ve-not-been-writing Post, I am going to make a simple announcement:
I would like to share some resources I’ve made, adapted or made use of over my last four years as a teacher, in the hope that this may be helpful to parents, teachers, guardians or anyone working with kids in these peculiar, particular times.
My school is shut down, your school may be shut down, or your kid’s school. Perhaps some of the printouts, stories, games or ideas I share could help a child or a few.
So here goes a little background.
I currently teach in Cape Town but have also taught in KwaZulu Natal. I started making resources as soon as I started teaching; getting ideas from wonderful colleagues, my imagination, and largely from The Interwebs. Now, I am sure I am not alone in being a teacher NOT from America/ UK/ Australia who has wondered ‘Is there any content our here for me and my students?’ And then realised No, it’s just Turkeys, Pumpkins, Santa, Snow, The Easter Bunny, Summer Holidays, Fall and Turkey again – across all the areas of the curriculum. Plus sometimes a little STEAM.
As well as issues of continental relevance, I also noticed that many downloadable activity packs required many, many, many pieces of paper to print, and often included what I saw as superfluous information. As a teacher at a low-income school, printing several copies per child per day was never going to fly – and it freaked out the tree-hugger inside me too.
Not to mention that worksheets are kind of urgh anyway. And teacher-made resources are passe. And kids learn better through play. And I am generally a fan of learner-made materials that help children make their learning visible to themselves, OK!
Lastly, on top of relevance, printing costs, and a general suspicion of worksheets I had students who did not speak English as their mother tongue and were expected to learn their lessons in English all day long. Many millions of people in the world know what this is like, although the South African education system may be uniquely cruel in the way it consistently denies children access to mother tongue learning at school, while simultaneously failing to teach them proficient alternatives. I was one of the lucky ones with a staff computer, a working printer and enough stationary to go round – but the approach that helped my kids the best was still the one that consistently acknowledged and celebrated their home language, their background and the exact place they were, learning-wise, even when this might have been ‘behind’ from their English-at-home speaking counterparts.
With all this in mind, my design approach became very simple: ink and paper friendly, primed for hands-on, visible learning and geared towards bilingual or ESL students (although it has proven just as effective in first language settings. They might seem too simple, like kinda boring simple. But my experience of using these resources has shown me that they are effective precisely because they are accessible and uncomplicated. In an arguably over-stimulating world, these offerings go back to the basics and build up to beautiful!
Thanks for reading! I hope that you find something you didn't even realise you were looking for.
A daunted but determined teacher irons out the fabric of her brain.