Teaching in the Dark: When Schools Don’t Support Non-Specialist Teachers with Resources

There are several problems and negative feelings teachers experience when they are not subject specialists and have to rely on others for resources, especially when schools are reluctant to pay for online resources:

Problems:

  • Inadequate resources: Non-specialist teachers may struggle to find high-quality, age-appropriate, and aligned resources, leading to fragmented learning experiences for students.
  • Increased workload: Finding and adapting resources adds to an already heavy workload, leaving less time for lesson planning, student interaction, and professional development.
  • Knowledge gaps: Teachers might feel insecure teaching a subject they haven’t formally studied, impacting their confidence and effectiveness.
  • Inequity: If only some teachers get access to paid resources, it can create unequal learning opportunities for students across different subjects.
  • Demotivation: Feeling unsupported and undervalued by the school leadership can be demotivating for teachers, impacting their morale and well-being.

Teacher feelings:

  • Frustration: Not having the necessary resources or support can be frustrating, leading to stress and burnout.
  • Inadequacy: Teachers may feel inadequate or unprepared to teach a subject they are not familiar with.
  • Isolation: Relying on others for resources can lead to feelings of isolation and lack of professional autonomy.
  • Resentment: Teachers are paying for resources which leaves teachers feeling resentful and undervalued.
  • Powerlessness: Not being able to influence resource decisions can make teachers feel powerless and voiceless.

Possible solutions:

  • School leadership:
    • Allocate budget for online resources across all subjects based on need and impact.
    • Support teachers in finding and evaluating high-quality resources.
    • Offer professional development opportunities for non-specialist teachers.
  • Collaboration:
    • Encourage teachers to share resources and best practices within departments and across schools.
    • Build a collaborative culture where teachers support each other’s learning and development.
  • Open educational resources (OERs):
    • Explore and utilize high-quality, openly licensed resources that are free to access and adapt.
    • Advocate for wider adoption of OERs within the school system.