Creativity is essential to being a teacher. What is a creative teacher? A creative teacher is able to utilize different ideas, interests, resources, and techniques, then incorporate them into lesson plans. Being a creative teacher perhaps does not happen as naturally as one might think. Teachers go to school to learn to be teachers. They encounter the standard practices or school of thought at the moment. They practice teaching strategies that are tried and true, seldom ever being allowed to do it differently.
In fact, perhaps teacher education is one of the biggest reasons why teachers are stifled. They get the idea that being a creative person is not what teaching is all about. Nothing could be further from the truth. It might explain a lot of things. Like why so many teachers burnout after two to three years. Why do so many teachers feel their jobs are tiring, strenuous, and stressful?
Don't get the wrong idea, teaching is all those things. But there is such a feeling as "good tired." A big difference from being just tired. Teaching should give one a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Sadly, seldom does it ever do just that. Teachers get put into a box, and never climb out of it for thirty years. Then retire. But not before passing that same sentiment on to the next generation of teachers. So, I know what you are asking. "What can I do to become a creative teacher?"
It starts by wanting to get out of the comfort zone you have been put in. The cliche of thinking outside the box holds true here. Turn your classroom on its head. Don't just stand, lecture, and teach. Take your class outside if possible every once in awhile. The four walls of your classroom can feel like a prison. They choke creativity.
If going outside is not an option, think of what you can do to your room to make it less stifling. Rearrange the desks and chairs often. If you must stand in the front and lecture, and there is nothing wrong with that if done when needed, then start by wandering around the room as you do it. Treat your classroom as if it is some magical land that can be transformed into something better. Use your personal experiences and stories when lecturing. Even ask your students for some.
Tell a tale, fiction or otherwise on the topic at hand. If you need to, make on up. Remember, you want to be a creative teacher, right? So start creating. And listening. Did you know that a creative teacher listens? And is a good one? Your lectures should be interactive, getting all students involved. Yes, it can be done in any subject. Start thinking creatively.
Every lesson, project, and topic can cross the line of subjects. You can incorporate math into a language arts lesson, language arts into a math lesson, design an art project for PE classes, and so on. The possibilities of cross-subjects is endless.
What do your students like to do? If you passed out a questionnaire at the beginning of the year, you would know this. Oh, you did not do that? Well do it now! Incorporate different current interests and topics into your teaching. Think! It's not really hard when you put your Creative Teacher cap on.
Every classroom should have lessons that incorporate all of the senses. Yes, all! Sight, sound, touch, and ......smell? Oh you'd have to be quite creative to do that!
Instead of just assigning standard problems, essays, or reports, a creative teacher adds more. Or subtracts...Your assignments should be interesting, have a real-world reason to exist. What, you can't think of a real-world reason for teaching or assigning something? Shame on you! How can you ask your students to do it? "When will we ever use this" should not be a question heard in your classroom. Your students already know! That is, if you are a creative teacher. Why not let the students create, build, or solve a problem instead of a set of mindless, rote questions to answer? (Yes, we know that sometimes you just got to assign problems. A creative teacher knows the limit.)
Here's a thought. If you make your students do an assignment, how about if you do it too? You want them to do 50 math problems tonight, go home and do them as well. You want them to write a 5 page essay, do one as well! Share it with your students. Anything and everything you assign, within reason of course, can also be done by you. And you do it right along with the students so they know this. This is not only creative, but helpful in teaching. As you do the assignment, you will notice pitfalls and ideas involved with the assignment. A creative teacher does not wait for questions, but anticipates them!
A creative teacher adapts. They are able to utilize anything they have to teach their students. They anticipate what their students will need. Remember, the 19th century was the century that education in the United States exploded. Students learned in one room, multiple grades, and a slate. If you know you are not going to have enough books, are you going to give up? The weather will be hot tomorrow. Your class has a poor-working AC unit. What will you do?
The creative teacher is excited to be in the classroom. They love and want to try new things. And they do it while having fun. Too many teachers are whiners. They look at the school and its resources and just shrug. They claim they are just being held down due to lack of things. Well, let's take a look at what the creative teacher does. The creative teacher thinks about what they can do with the things and situation they are in. It may sound corny, but they use lemons and make lemonade. Why? Simple. They are creative teachers! Now, how about you?
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