The White Room

JUST A THOUGHT……What would teaching be like without resources?  No interactive whiteboard, no equipment, no i Pads, no computers, no Prezi, no PowerPoint, no nothing?  Just you, your class and your combined brain power.

I often wonder this, and when I do, my imagination goes off into my metaphorical white classroom.  An empty white room. No posters, no display….just me and my pupils to give life to the learning…..(OK, maybe I have a flipchart and marker!)

create reality

In fact, my planning often starts from this extremely weird place.  If I can get my point across in there….I can do it anywhere! My white room, as a concept, is in my head and never will be a reality thank goodness!  But I find it quite refreshing to strip my teaching RIGHT back to the basics for the sake of the learning.

I sometimes create my lessons from this strange ideological beginning, because it really helps draw out my passion and enthusiasm, fluent and clear explanations and anecdotes to keep my subject alive and inspiring.   I strongly believe the most substantial resource in the classroom is straightforward people power – the teacher, the pupils!  The learning is about questions, discussions and explanations.  I suppose you could call it Socratic learning, where the power of ‘talk’ and ‘inquiry’ puts key ideas and concepts on the slab to be dissected, de-constructed and built up again into real knowledge.

Don’t misunderstand, I absolutely love using a wide variety of ICT/resources/equipment – I have to.  But, I do not plan around the resource.  If I visualise the objective and flow of the lesson and the discussions/questions that will arise, and add resources in after, the lesson is more rigorous. The resources become purposeful and necessary, and not just time fillers or gimmicks that can sometimes get in the way of actual learning – for example, a three year old, 15 minute card-sort that someone from your department created.  You still use it because it is there and ready, it has reduced your workload….result! However- is it really addressing the learning?  If it’s not having an impact – don’t use it!

I also realise that some subjects are more suited to practical and resource based learning…..couldn’t imagine trying to teach some aspects of design technology or PE in the ‘white room,’ with nothing but teacher and pupils. You kind of need a lathe or a javelin. Yet, other aspects of these subjects really lend themselves to the socratic way of doing things.  The discussions and enthusiasm are still vitally important.  A lesson is like a good joke I guess…..it’s the way you tell it.  A really great teacher could get their point across in a meaningful way, anywhere!

I challenge everyone to step into their own version of the white room – have a switch off from ICT, resources and all things gimmicky.  Think deeply about HOW you make your pupils learn.  We ARE the ‘change agents’ (Hattie).

Finally I have to make the point about how unbelievably lucky we are to be so resource-rich.  I’m happy that we have fantastic ICT, equipment, texts and stationery readily available in the UK, and in some cases brand new school buildings.  We are so fortunate and our children need to realise how lucky they are.  Use resources well, wisely and for impact in learning gains!  #loveteaching

school in poverty

5 Comments

  1. I love this. There’s something absolutely fundamental about it. Ultimately we engage pupils in a love of a learning or of a subject area through a direct transmission of enthusiastic knowledge, and that should be our starting position for teaching anything.
    I’m seriously pondering whether we could have a ‘no resources day’ at our school (pupils wouldn’t write anything either). It would still be with the most serious academic intentions – not a novelty ‘lark around day’ – but all engagement, learning and assessment would need to be direct and visible. We could learn so much about teaching and learning from doing that…
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you for your reply. Let me know how your ‘no resources day’ goes. I think it’s too easy to forget OUR role in the classroom! Maybe a bit of good old fashioned, enthusiastic chalk and talk will have a renaissance!

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      Reply

      1. Yes… I’ll need to give some careful thought to the exact rules of engagement & come up with some clear exemplars for the kinds of ways teachers could conduct things (just to get colleagues engaged with the idea of course – it would be absolutely vital that they found their own natural ‘zing’!)

        Like

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