SMART Resources

Every student teacher has probably received similar advice to the following statement; ‘will you be able to sustain the amount of time you spend planning and creating resources on a full timetable?’ Maybe some people do, but there is always a price to pay; over planning leads to burnout in the classroom and also a strain on work-life balance which can result in general unhappiness.  We all understand that unhappy teachers tend to perform poorly and this means unhappy pupils in the classroom.  However, we are all expected to and need to have good resources to assist lessons.

SMART Traffic Lights

The traffic light resource planner offers a practical solution on how to plan resource building.  Each category is explained in more detail:

High Maintenance

These are the big activities with the typical characteristics of lots of preparation time, are difficult to set up, expensive to purchase/make and can take up a lot of your time.  As with all measurement scales, each resource could overlap with other categories or have a mix of characteristics, so we don’t always have a pure high maintenance activity.  However, a typical high maintenance resource tends to surface in the lessons of student teachers who have more time to plan.  They are also used by all teachers for a special lesson like an observation.

Template or Shared

Template or shared resources are those that have been already created by others or you.  They may be ready to use which would put them straight into the green category or they may require a small amount of tweaking/preparation.  With the explosion of online resource hosting and social media, the SMART teacher would nearly always be able to find a template or shared resource.  This kind of resource would take approximately 10 minutes to create to be a ‘pure amber’.  Shared resources can also be a shared bank of items within a school’s  teaching and learning cupboard like play-doh, highlighters, mini-whiteboards, post-its etc.  This enables teachers to be more creative in the classroom without the hassle of having to order, pay for and claim back money on resources which generally results in the majority of teachers not bothering at all.

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SMART Resources

SMART resources are those that are ready to use.  Some learning activities can be taught with no preparation time or planning required.  Obviously, a high maintenance resource or template can become SMART if it is saved and reusable.  These resources are generally used in schools and department who are good at sharing resources or by the ICT savvy teacher who knows how to find SMART resources.


A smart resource shared by St Augustine’s

How to ‘traffic light’ resource preparation time on lesson plans

When planning a lesson or observing a lesson, a very simple method is to place a red, amber or green dot next to each resource.  Three red dots could indicate 3 hours of planning for 3 resources. Five green dots indicates a few minutes or no planning.  You are more likely to see some red on lessons that haven’t been taught before but the SMART teacher should predominantly see a majority of amber and green when they are using resources efficiently.


A quote from Mike Hughes sums up why teachers should work SMART.

“The most underused resource by teachers in schools is other teachers”.

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