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Classroom Management: Teaching with Limited Resources

Janelle Cox

Unfortunately, many of us are teaching with limited resources, which can make our job quite a challenge. It can be frustrating to plan a lesson with limited textbooks, or no textbooks at all, for that matter. Especially if you are teaching abroad, you may encounter a situation with very limited resources. So, how do you use classroom management to teach a class that has little to no resources? You get creative! Here are a few classroom management tips to help you make the most with what you have in the classroom.

Classroom Management If You Don’t Have Enough Textbooks

For those of you that don’t have enough textbooks for every student, then grouping students together to share or creating cooperative learning groups is the best way to go. Group work where you have a “Few” textbooks per group can actually be a great way for students to learn. If you don’t have enough books, but you do have access to a copy machine, then you can also photocopy the pages that you want students to read.

If You Don’t Have Any Textbooks

If you don’t have any textbooks at all, then you must be either teaching abroad or in an extremely low-income setting. The first suggestion I have is to go online to Donorschoose.org and ask for donations. This is by far the best place to go if you are need of resources. You can ask for donations for anything from textbooks and pencils and paper, to computers and desks for the children to sit at. In the meantime, while you are waiting on those, you can have students create their own textbook out of paper. Everything that you write on the chalkboard or chart paper, the students also write down on their papers. Not only is this a good idea for a book, but it’s also a great way to cement the information that is being learned in the students brains because they listening, copying and reading the information.

If You Don’t Have Access to Technology

In a world that is dependent upon technology, you may wonder how it’s even possible to not have access to technology. Unfortunately, it’s possible in low-income and countries abroad. If this is the case, then you have to get creative and teach traditionally. Create lessons and group activities that engage students. If there is some way for you to get your hands on even one piece of technology, then you utilize it for the whole class. Ask for donations, or you can even use your own piece of technology if you feel comfortable sharing it with the students. If you have a laptop, you can show educational movies on it -- the students will love it.

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If You Don’t Have Access to a Photocopy Machine

If you don’t have access to a photocopy machine, then you can use flipchart paper or a chalkboard to write everything that’s on the paper that you needed copied. Then, you can just have students copy the chart paper or from the front board down on their papers. While this may take some time, it’s the easiest way to do things without a copy machine.

If You Don’t Have Access to Any Teacher Materials

If you are teaching with limited to no resources, then you most likely will not be privy to any teacher materials. If that’s the case, then you can download them online to your computer and bring them with you to class.

If You Don’t Have Access to a Classroom

If you are in a foreign country, then chances are you may not have any access to a classroom. If that is the case, then you will have to bring the classroom with you. Create a portable classroom by bringing flipchart paper, a portable whiteboard or chalkboard, or your tablet or laptop computer with you. You will be surprised what you can accomplish when you bring the supplies yourself. All you need is a few colorful markers or pieces of chalk, and a well-designed lesson or activity, and you have yourself a classroom.

If you have limited resources, then don’t panic, you still have your knowledge, imagination and your creative sensibility. Most likely, the students that you are going to teach will be used to the conditions of limited resources, so with a little forethought and imagination, you can still be an effective classroom teacher.

Have you ever had to use classroom management to teach with limited resources before? If so, what were the conditions like, and what did you do to overcome them? Please share your story in the comment section below, we would love to hear it.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.