Paper Problems: My Worksheet Heartbreak.

worksheet teaching

Dear Worksheet,

Okay, I admit it. We’ve had some fun times together. You’ve saved me hours of lesson planning and pretty much single-handedly got me through my teaching training year. You’ve got so many qualities, which is what drew me to you in the first place. You can be fun, you keep the kids busy while I catch up on the countless tasks on my to-do list, you are loyal and you are reliable.

I’ll always have wonderful memories of all the time we’ve spent together over the past three years of my teaching career. I’ll remember with particular fondness the time that you kept the whole class entertained for thirty minutes straight when I accidentally slammed my fingers in a door, nearly fainted from the pain and had to spend half the lesson sitting at my desk with my head in my hands. I will also always appreciate the week you covered my back at school and basically did my job for me whilst I was abroad with a bunch of kids on a languages trip. And of course, I will forever cherish the fact that you got me through five hours of teaching on the day that my worst nightmare was realised and every single bit of technology in my classroom failed.

So you see, Worksheet, it’s important you understand how difficult this is for me. I honestly think you’re great but…I just feel we need a break. Permanently. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed. I used to think I needed you but now I’m realising that we aren’t as perfectly matched as I thought we were. I thought you were the best thing for my kids, but over time I’ve begun to see that you might actually be holding them back. It’s just so difficult to differentiate you enough to challenge all my learners and meet all their individual needs. Also, sometimes you can actually be quite boring. It’s true that some kids love to just sit and spend time with you, but others just don’t seem to engage at all and end up sitting there just staring at you and not learning a thing.

The other thing is (and please forgive me for saying this, but I have to be honest with you) your appearance is unpredictable to say the least. Sure, you are crisp, bright and smart at the start of a lesson, but by the end you are all too often a crumpled up, ink-stained, nameless mess. I end up having to either spend hours matching handwriting so I can glue you in the right book, or throw you in the bin and risk parents and inspectors wondering why there is blank page where you should be.

I also feel that sometimes you are not very good for me. You give me an excuse to sit at my desk and just get on with emails and marking whilst you keep the class busy for at least ten or fifteen minutes. Don’t get me wrong – as a new teacher I asked for this and was glad of it. I actually think you played a significant role in keeping me sane in the first couple of years of my career. But now I’m older and wiser, I think it’s probably best I learn to do without. Besides, I want kids to actually learn in my lessons and enjoy them, and whilst I’m not saying you can’t provide this I’m just worried that being around you might prove too much of a temptation for me and cause me to fall back into old habits.

Finally, I’ve become increasingly concerned that you are hanging out with the wrong crowd. All those word searches just can’t be good for you. And all those boxes filled with lines for children to answer questions in – I can’t help wondering what the point of this is when my school has forked out thousands for exercise books for every child. Granted, your social circle is your concern and not mine, but from one friend to another, I feel I should tell you that you’ve got a bit stuck up over the years. I’m sure you didn’t spend so much time with that laminator when I was at school. And all that colour ink! I’m just not sure my budget can keep up.

Worksheet, you know it pains me to write this but, for all the reasons I’ve just given, I think we are going to have to break up. You are brilliant and you have incredible potential. Perhaps someday we’ll be very happy again together. But you just aren’t what I need right now. Of course, I still want us to be friends and I’m hoping you’ll agree to continue to visit my classroom on occasion. I hope you understand.


Claire, your favourite classroom teacher.

Thank you for reading!
I hope you can see that this is meant to be tongue in cheek but it definitely reflects a lot of the thoughts I’ve been having over the past year. I’m not suggesting worksheets don’t have their place and they are perhaps even more useful for younger children who are acquiring basic skills than they are for older children who are more independent. I’m just learning, as a teacher, to make sure that every element of my lessons has purpose and meets the needs of the kids I teach. What are your thoughts about worksheets?

Feel free to leave a comment, send me a message via the Contact Me page or connect with me on InstagramPinterest & Twitter.

I also share free French & Spanish teaching resources here.

Teaching: 3 reasons I’ll never quit.
Observation time: Why I love feedback (sort of).
Things Jake taught me.

Happy Teaching!


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