Creativity is the most important trait that a person can possess. It allows you to create meaning, importance and curiosity. It is the essence of why and how children and adults learn. As teachers and schools evolve, they should be asking themselves, how are our schools enhancing our students’ and our teachers’ creativity, curiosity, and engagement?
Recently, my school came together as a community to think about this question. It is an important question because it will determine if our school will meet the needs of our students in the 21st century. One way our school plans on maximizing its impact on students is to create PLNs, personal learning networks, where teachers help each other investigate new ways to create curriculum and organize instruction. In our PLNs, our teachers along with administrators, will learn creative ways to combine technology and great teaching strategies to engage students in project based learning, and teach other how to use collaborative structures to keep students engaged and curious enough to strive to learn or explore topics and projects on their own in and out of the classroom.
With that in mind our school is taking time to consider what teacher and student tools we are using as a community to promote creativity. In order to promote creativity as a school, we first chose to examine how the learner is changing in the 21st century, and then used this knowledge to change our teaching so that it will enhance this new style of learning and at the same time promote creativity in our school.
While working with my school PLN group, I came across a video conversation with Discovery Education’s own, Hall Davidson, speaking about what makes a creative school. The video intrigues me because Hall’s answer is that in a creative school, the learner is someone who learns by creating and interacting with video, experimentation, and collaboration to construct or enhance their own understanding. This implies that the teachers will have to flip in the 21st century, not just the classroom to enhance student learning and creativity. Technology and collaboration will be the tools the students use to learn new concepts. Teachers have to use technology to help students be engaged, but students need to be creative in the way they think of using the technology, art and print media to represent their thoughts. The teacher and students roles are flipped from the traditional teacher/ student model. Now the classroom is a place where teacher and student help each other make connections and teachers mentor and help students think through issues, solve problems and use creativity to understand what they are learning.
This idea has great impact on a teacher’s view of delivering the curriculum content and also on how teachers will organize the students’ learning time. Teachers and students will need to use creativity to improve instruction and learning. For example, teachers will need to be creative in how they structure their lessons to encourage thoughtful collaboration among students. The students will use technology, as the video implies, to create content that helps the student to better understand what they are learning. Interacting with media in a creative way will help students develop new ideas and form new curriculum connections. It is the creative interaction of students and teachers that will lead to enhanced learning.
How can administrators and teachers foster creativity? One way to enhance creativity is to encourage the use of tools like Discovery Education, or other teacher tested web 2.0 tools, that give students the tool set they need to employ their own creativity to interact and create new ideas with the core curriculum. Another way creativity can be fostered is by giving teachers time to collaborate with other teachers, for example encouraging teachers to attend a DEN event or DEN webinars. If you think about it, being a member of DEN enables you to be involved in an international personal learning network. Creativity is the key to keeping teaching and learning relevant. Discovery and DEN are one of the tools our school utilizes to creatively increase teacher-to-teacher collaboration and student learning. Creativity is powerful. How will your school creatively engage students and teachers?