4 ways to value and boost creativity in your classroom
As a teacher and a writer, I believe creativity is one of the most important attributes for our students to develop. Creativity is transformative, empowering and inspiring. However, it’s also difficult, time-consuming and messy.
In this article, my first for the brand new teaglo blog, I’m going to discuss some of the ways I value creativity in my own life and how I bring that to the classroom and my students.
Make time for it
Time is both the friend and the enemy of creativity. That’s because creativity can take a lot of time, but when you’re being creative time can also just disappear. I love it when I’m writing – I set a timer for an hour, get involved and before it feels like I’ve written two words an hour has passed.
That said, it doesn’t have to take hours – a creative habit can be started in just a few minutes a day. That’s how I began two years ago, and what I now do with my students as often as possible. I give them a short task designed exclusively to spark creativity. This develops their own creative ability which they get to show off when we complete larger tasks.
Discuss your own creativity – whatever that might be
At a recent staff meeting I asked teachers how many of them read for pleasure in the last five days, almost everyone raised a hand. I then asked how many discussed that reading with students, about 90% of the hands remained up. Then I asked my colleagues how many of them had been creative for pleasure in the last five days, about three hands were raised. When I asked those three if they had discussed that creativity with their students, only two remained up.
This, inherently, is our problem. As teachers we do not often have time to pursue our own creative endeavours, which subliminally communicates to our students that we do not value our own creativity enough to make time for it. Whether that’s the mindset you hold or not, that is the impression your students are getting.
To counter this, make a point of being creative yourself. It doesn’t have to be for long, ten minutes a couple of times a week. Just make sure you share your efforts with your students – even if the end result isn’t very good.
Show the creative process
As teachers, it’s easy for us to put a great work of art on the screen and point out why it’s brilliant. But what we don’t see is the time, graft, or mess that has gone into creating it.
That’s part of our job as teachers – to show our students the process behind the result. Help them understand that great artists weren’t born that way, they lived through years of grit and determination to create the masterpieces we now enjoy.
Even the great works are edited and tweaked – have you seen the edited version of the first page of George Orwell’s 1984? It’s unrecognisable. By showing students this process, we are letting them know that if they are willing to put in the time, they too can follow the steps to build their creativity up to a level of mastery.
Creativity is messy
In a school, and in any institution, the uniform, the regular and neat are valued and aspired to. Creativity, however, doesn’t work like that. Creativity often appears from chaos and can only be achieved when people are allowed to make a mess.
To keep students’ books looking neat have them draft on paper or on the computer where they can rewrite and improve. This shows them that re-writing is the expectation, honing their work into a final piece that they can be proud of.
The messy first draft of my first novel took three months, honing and editing that to the final product took a year. That’s how creatives have always worked and that’s what we need to encourage from our students.
Do you think your students value creativity?