On Teaching Without Paper, or Less Anyway

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Using effective teaching materials.

I’ve often avoided the copier issues by printing the stuff at my computer. We have Brother laser printers and they often work well. It’s never mattered how many trees I massacred as long as the ink was dark and flowed freely, which up to now it always has.

Alas, printers like people, get old I’m afraid. They need routine operations and recently, two in needed to be taken to a nearby cliff (if we had one in the desert) and put out of their misery. I’m speaking of one-half printing. Sound familiar? Lines streaking? Drum light flashing Morse code?

At one point a couple years back, I had all these wonderful road-blocks to getting my lessons taught. You know what I decided? I decided instead of cursing the printing darkness, to light a candle. I declared power over paper.

It would no longer control me! Time for green school ideas.

I set down a what-if scenario for every paper event I can fathom. I decided that the wool had been pulled over my eyes long enough . . . paper and teaching . . . I saw clearly for the first time: I JUST DON’T NEED IT! I am going to learn how to save paper and still be a highly effective teacher. A teaching career can exist with less paper. I believe in that.

Van Gogh said art is done within limitation, not without. I indeed have to get creative at times in order to keep my one-day-at-a-time commitment. My students already have a mother lode of printed material in their texts and their consumable books. I see no reason why I can’t continue this until I retire. My mission is to find alternatives to paper.

About Damien S Riley

I'm an elementary school teacher, specifically 4th grade, sharing what I find to be valuable information from my classroom to yours. I once heard that the best behavior management strategy is a "dynamite lesson plan," hence the name of this blog. I'm married with 3 kids. Thanks for reading.
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4 Responses to On Teaching Without Paper, or Less Anyway

  1. Jodi says:

    I was chuckling through this entire post, because I could swear that you were describing the staff room at MY work. Copying has been such a huge hassle–for all of the reasons you described–that I myself have tried to pull away from paper. I’m a recovering worksheet-addict though, so it’s really been a challenge for me. Luckily I got an Elmo this year, and that little device has halped a LOT. There really is this sense of freedom teaching without paper.

  2. Thank you for the agreement! I really think too many teachers use “packets” as a crutch. Teaching directly to the kids with overheads and “elmos” yields such better scores with my classes. Plus, I don’t go crazy at the copier.

  3. Claire says:

    You know how you have ads on your blog? One of them was for a printer. Made me laugh. As did your post. I wish I was as brave as you to go through a day without paper, but I fear my students won’t do anything if they don’t have something to turn in…

  4. Damien Riley says:

    There are some things I do that require printers and paper. Yes that is ironic that the ad showed up for a printer. Google uses words in the post to pick the ads. Not everyone will want to reduce paper. For me, it works out better when I do.

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