noun. a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.
adjective. having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
noun. the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
- are a source or supply from which a benefit is produced and that has some utility;
- can be classified by their availability — renewable and non-renewable;
- can be natural, human made and human;
- can be categorised: Human Resources, Natural Resources, Economic Resources, Space Resources and Speculative Resources;
- can be living.
So to be resourceful is to draw upon your resources. Or to find the resources you need to overcome an obstacle, to create a solution, to survive and thrive.
As I reflect on this theme I move back and forth from having resources to being resourceful. I think sometimes we see resources as something we purchase, as a one way relationship, however, I always think in the spirit of exchange. It makes me consider what we value, what we have and what we need.
As a teacher and a school leader I was resourceful with little resource. I could think on my feet and find solutions. I could create something out of nothing as I worked in schools with deficit budgets or start up budgets, here are some examples.
Exchanging Training as a Resource
As new VP in a school where 37 languages were being spoken. I was leading T&L/ CPD and no money for the whole year, but the school was inadequate and standards needed to rapidly improve. I had no resources but I was resourceful. Armed with a tea urn and some biscuits, I utilised Twitter and my network as a resource. I created a free #TeachMeet with a focus on EAL. 150 people came to South London, people travelled down from the North of the country, we created a network of support around the school and shared free resources with our staff. Everyone gave their time for free, but the value came from the network and the collaboration that grew. The resources shaped our offer, we worked with some of the experts and it shaped our vision into our provision. The following year we created a space, TLC, The Language Centre, at the heart of our school, staffed by a brilliant multi-lingual team. We also invested in Rosetta Stone as a digital resource. All of that from a tweet.
Exchanging Partnership as a Resource
As a start-up Headteacher we had a big beautiful school that had 1/10 of its capacity filled in our opening year. We were space rich but cash poor, we had big ideas but a very small budget! I leveraged what we had and went to old school bartering, I exchanged space for resource. We incubated organisations we wanted to work with, free rent in exchange for free services for our students, such as an Art Therapy Room. We had spaces we wanted to create to meet the needs of our students but we could not afford to resource them, like a Sensory Room and a Thrive Room, so I went out to our community partners and asked them to sponsor rooms in exchange for a plaque and some publicity.
Exchanging Time as a Resource
I value my time and my energy. I have negotiated quite a few things for time rather than for money in the past, for my own wellbeing. As a senior middle leader with a large team and the biggest subject cluster, I was asked to take on lots of additional whole school responsibilities and also lead MAT-wide initiatives. They were all things I wanted to say yes to, but I knew I was at the limit of my capacity and already working silly hours. When I was offered a pay increase and I declined it and requested two more free periods instead, the Headteacher laughed at me, but agreed it. We both left happy. As a Headteacher I leveraged this. We didn’t have the funds to pay time in lieu, or honour every additional responsibility so we created a wellbeing voucher scheme where a day off was gifted to recipients rather than extra money.
Exchanging Skills as a Resource
Being resourceful is about working out what you want/ need, then thinking outside of the box to find solutions. My solutions usually involve transactions, by evaluating what you have, you can work out what you can leverage. I heard someone call it a ‘skills exchange’ recently. Someone in our circle needed a service she could not afford to maximise her business, she was thinking of financial resource but had not considered that she could use her skills and talents as a a resource. She is a talented milliner and needed some PR. I suggested swapping some PR input for a headpiece, no money then needs to be exchanged.
These are a few examples of how I have been resourceful in the past. In my opinion and in my experience, to be resourceful draws on the following skills:
- Being a creative thinker
- Being solutions-focused
- Being practical
- Being a negotiator
Yet, as we reflect on being resourceful we also need to consider the differences between:
- Having resources
- Being a resource
- Being resourceful
- Receiving resourcefulness
We are surrounded by resources to help us learn and grow, but we do not always see them. We are also all a resource, but we do not always see this either.
As a teacher I used the ‘Book, Buddy, Boss triplet’ as a way to encourage my students to be more resourceful and to become more resilient as learners.
My trio of key resources for being resourceful are: Literature (books, articles, podcasts, videos and blogs), Network (friends, family, colleagues, twitter and LinkedIn), Me (we often forget ourselves).