Since beginning my teaching career three years ago, I have to admit, I haven’t spent a lot of time or energy making sure that my students have creative outlets. Sure, I plan activities where they can draw a picture or create multimedia presentations. But for the most part, it’s not something that I actively seek to incorporate into my lessons. Now, though, I have a new sense of motivation to update my practices.
My lessons, readings, and projects that I have been working on here at MAET Galway have been largely centered around creativity. I have been reminded how rewarding it is to create something rather than just produce the product my teacher wants me to produce. I feel refreshed and ready to provide my students with more chances to express themselves creatively.
I think part of the reason that I ignored (in a way) creativity in my lessons prior to this was because I feel like I have to be careful when dealing with students’ creativity. A large part of my job is providing fair, defendable grades for their work. I have many parents on my roster who would not hesitate to call or email about a grade they do not agree with. So, how should I mark a creative assignment?
On the flip side, my students rarely have any creative outlet. They have ten lessons a day that are all geared towards preparing them for an intense test. They hardly ever get to create or explore their own thinking, and they do not have very good problem solving skills. My students loath days without an art, music, or PE lesson because that means that they sit in the same room all day long, in rows, facing forward, listening. I want to be one of those lessons that they feel is a “break” from the norm, but where they can still learn a great deal.
At this point, I honestly feel like my desire to enable my students to be creative far outweighs my concerns about grades.
I’ve made a running list of tweaks that I can make to current projects and assignments in the hope of providing more open-ended, creativity-fostering activities. I’ve been thinking of things like riddles, how-to videos, surveys and data analysis, and various types of journal assignments that could lead to more than just prescriptive paragraph writing. One of my problems is that I have a lot of ideas, but many of them are never seen to fruition because I try to take on too much all at once. I need to remember that I cannot create a creativity-enhanced classroom overnight!
I think, over time, on this journey to changing my teaching approach, I will occasionally re-watch this video shared with our class by Marci Lewis (thank you Marci!) It speaks volumes about the type of students that we as teachers are producing. I know what kind of teacher I want to be, and I have a refreshed sense of motivations now.
Segev, Elad. (2013, May 9). When there is a correct answer: excessive in creative thinking. [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9TskeE43Q1M