Here are some steps teachers can take to unlock their creative genius at school:
1.) Find your passion in everything.
This is the most important step. When learning becomes a task–both for teachers and students–nobody enjoys it. The best people in the classroom are those with a passion for learning. When teachers find inspiration in anything and everything then students gain an appreciation for learning.
Passion leads to life-long learning.
2.) Gather like-minded people.
Although this is easier said than done, there are plenty of teachers who have the passion but then are left isolated in their classrooms. A great school has a faculty of passionate people who work well together. Everybody loses their passion from time to time and it’s important to surround oneself with like-minded, high-energy, goal-oriented people who will keep each other on fire for education. At my school, it has made a huge difference for me to seek out people from other departments for help, advice, and inspiration. Even if you can’t find these people in your immediate surroundings, social media offers you an expansive Personal Learning Network for new ideas, advice, and inspiration.
Find people who support your passion.
3.) Use your voice.
Teachers are responsible for empowering students to think critically and creatively, yet teachers often don’t exercise that power themselves. Public schools function top-down: policy makers enact legislation requiring testing, district offices create the school guidelines, and school leaders prescribe professional development. It’s no wonder that teachers lose their creativity and passion! However, there is a way for teachers to gain back their voice and contribute their opinion in school matters.
I learned at Edcamp that choice matters for teachers just as much as for students. Education is moving in the direction of creating teacher-powered schools that empower teachers as professionals. There are many organizations fighting to re-shape the education landscape so that teacher leaders become a driving factor in school decisions. Teachers need to share their ideas and support this movement at the state and local levels. The first step is by engaging the administration at your current school. If this fails or you feel restricted, then make a change to find a school that fits who you are as a teacher.
When teachers use their voice, powerful change happens.
4.) Re-invent the classroom.
Let’s face it, school classrooms were designed to produce factory workers. It’s time to shift from an assembly line era to the modern technological era. This means schools should mimic the environment of a modern lifestyle and students should gain experience taking on those various roles and responsibilities. Instead of rows of desks, let students manage the learning space. Come up with lessons and tasks that require students to move around, manipulate their environment, interact digitally, collaborate with their peers, work individually and also engage with the teacher one-on-one.
Utilizing the classroom space with intent will help unlock creative genius.
5.) Give students choice.
This is often the hardest part, but the most rewarding. In my teaching, when I give students options they take ownership and pride in what they choose. Sometimes this means different ways to do a project, different topics to cover, or even sometimes different ways to utilize class time. Students need choices, they need to make mistakes, and they need to accept responsibility for their actions. The only way to do this is for teachers to act as facilitators who guide students through learning, instead of the all-knowing leaders who control it. The most important part of teaching is listening to and supporting students’ ideas.
Let students use their voice and it will inspire your teaching.
Have other ideas of how you unlock creative genius at school? Leave a comment and share them with me!