How can teachers deal with having limited options in their classrooms?

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is going to be a bit difficult to give a really specific answer to this question, because it doesn't specify what the limited options are.  Are options limited because of the school budget?  Is it limited because of a lack of technology?  Are options limited because new ideas and teaching methods are "frowned upon?"  All of the above?  

The best, all encompassing, answer that I can give a teacher with limited options or resources is be creative.  

Let me give you an example of something that I have had to do before.  I teach 8th grade science, and labs can be expensive to do, so making them cheap and easy requires some creative thinking.  At one point in the year, to reinforce the use of the scientific method and the concepts of balanced and unbalanced forces, I make students build bridges across the table gaps.  Their building supply? Straws.  Straws are cheap.  But getting enough straws for each group can become expensive.  I do two things to offset the cost.  First, I offer extra credit to any student that brings in a "fistful" of straws.  That's usually about 25 straws and for sure covers one group's supplies.  With a classroom full of kids, that's a lot of students straw hunting on the weekend.  I guarantee that on any given weekend, there are numerous students that eat at a fast food restaurant and can grab a few more straws than normal.  The other thing that I do is drive to three to four fast food restaurants.  I ask to see the manager and explain who I am and what I want to do in class.  I then ask if the restaurant is willing to donate a bunch of straws.  One year I had Wendy's and Jack in the Box donate 1000 straws . . . each.  

If the limiting option is classroom technology, then be creative with what students are likely bringing with them in the first place.  Leverage the cell phones that kids have.  It's basically a bring your own device option.  Let's say that you are teaching Romeo and Juliet.  Groups of students work together to pose each act and scene.  The pose needs to make it clear which act and scene is being referenced.  A group member would take a picture of the posed scene with a cell phone.  Then the students put those pictures all together in a slide show with a caption that uses real lines of text from the play. There are tons of free apps that do this kind of thing.  The finished product is a slideshow that has students posing out each important part of the entire play.  They get really into it, because they are the stars, and they are always shocked that a teacher will actually let them use their phones in class.