Polly Puddleduck shares her views on making child-friendly resources, on the challenges of teaching abroad and how being a parent can help you as a resources author.
I've been happily teaching on and off in the Middle East for the last ten years. I have three children; two naughty boys and a beautiful little girl. I adore teaching and I love the fact that I may be making a difference in classrooms all over the world.
We chose the name Polly because that's my daughter's favourite stuffed animal, a duck called Polly. I wanted to use alliteration so that it could be remembered, so, Polly became Polly Puddleduck.
When I moved to the Middle East, it didn't take me long to realise that things were different in schools here. There were no guidelines, few resources and classrooms were bare! It was daunting at first but being the hands-on person that I am, I got stuck right in to making my own resources, building up my own curriculum and basically, starting from scratch.
How being a parent has influenced me
The great thing about teaching EYFS and KS1 is that I am now thinking about children's learning not only as a teacher, but also as a parent. My son has Asperger’s and it was only this year when he entered Year 1 that I realised how difficult school can be and how important differentiation was, especially in terms of worksheets that are easy to follow with a certain amount of continuity.
There have been times when my son has come home with an unclear worksheet, and you can be sure if the parent doesn't understand the homework, the child certainly isn't going to either!
A family affair
My children are my inspiration for creating resources. My son actually helped to create the latest 'My First Colour Workbook'. Rather than me choose pictures for each colour, I asked him what picture he would associate with the colour blue, for example. We often think of things from our perspective, sometimes it's good to look at things through a child's eye.
My kids give me suggestions and ideas and quite often tell me what they don't have in their classrooms that they would like. I made some number lines just this week as my son had a homework task about ‘what number comes between’, which was incredibly difficult for him to understand . So we printed off a huge number line, which we put on the floor and drove a bus up and down!
Making child-friendly resources is something many teachers don't do. I often see lots of glitzy worksheets and, quite frankly, the child doesn't care whether there is a frame on the page or not, they don't care whether you have bought a special font, but they will care if they cannot understand what they are being asked to do.
I urge all teachers to think before they press print, will the children benefit from this printout? Is it child-friendly? Is there a purpose? Does it cover what I intend for them to learn? Is it something that they will remember?
I make workbooks more than anything else because children need structure, they need routine, they need to know what comes next and they get excited when they see the next page. I have started with the hardware, the traditional pencil and paper method of workbooks, but there are also games included with a few of my packs.
What’s next for Polly Puddleduck?
My long-term goal is to build up a huge amount of resources that are reasonably priced, child-friendly, clear and concise.
If you're interested in finding out more about becoming a resources author, contact the TES Authors Team who are happy to advise on how to get started and can provide on-going guidance.