I’ve been reading a few articles on using creativity in teaching lately and if you’ve been reading the blog for a while you know that’s what I’m all about. The beauty of the internet is that one thing leads you to the next and it’s easy to get lost in an endless array of information. Recently, I stumbled upon an article that not only talked about getting more creative in your teaching but about actually developing creativity in students, especially children. The article came with a whopping 24 tips that would help any teacher start doing that immediately, and it just took reading the first one for me to have a serious ‘Eureka!’ moment. Robert Sternberg and Wendy Williams, authors of the article “Teaching for Creativity: Two Dozen Tips” mention modelling creativity as the first one on their list, saying that teachers shouldn’t focus so much on how to teach creativity, but that being creative themselves seems to be the key. Ah yes, the eternal search for a role model, we all have it, and it’s a good thing!
This is where I had my serious aha! moment, with an itty bitty memory from many years ago: the first time I read Animal Farm by George Orwell and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Yes these were written by literary geniuses, but that wasn’t it, I read these under the incredible teachings of someone I will never forget. The pages seemed to come alive more and more each day when the book was sent for homework while we talked about Stalin and Lenin and gave presentations about the Russian ballet and were expected to share some Russian cooking with our classmates during school hours. The world of the Chinese farmers was opened up to me by watching movies and looking at incredible pictures and stories about China and the Asian cultures. The images that came to my head while I was reading these books after having such crazy creative classes in school have never left my mind. My teacher, Lisette, was not the first of my incredibly talented teachers, but certainly the most memorable and a role model for creativity if there ever was one. My mother and the rest of my family always said I was incredibly creative and that it must have been in my blood after coming from a family of artists and writers, but I know that genes had little to do with it. At home and in the classroom, great creative things were expected of me, and when things are expected of you as a child, you simply rise to the occasion.
My first exercise when getting certified as an English teacher was to think about the teachers in my own life and what had inspired me. Regardless to say that images of Teresa and the day she totally shocked me with photos of Biosphere number 2 and explained what that was came rushing past me. Nora and her very unique way of teaching us Shakespeare made an appearance, Herminia and her humor and love of literature came to stay. Carlos G. and the way he taught me how to love the magic of creating something with your hands and laugh at yourself when things went wrong also knocked on my door. Eduardo and his incredible and mesmerizing lectures were there because they simply never left. Lisette was center stage and will always be (as she has been since then) an incredible role model for high standards, creativity and a passion for teaching. So yes, what is the first thing you should do to actually get creativity to show up in the classroom? As the experts say and as my experience taught me, you must lead by example.
I’m so glad that all the research I do to take my lessons to the next level creatively might teach more than just possessive adjectives and modal verbs! I’ll go through more of the tips with you soon, but if you can’t wait, here’s the article.
What more can I say of these and so many other incredible teachers, other than thank you. What would happen to the world if all teachers were this passionate and creative? It would be pretty great wouldn’t it?!
My mother used to always have a surprise for me on the first day of school and that’s what you’re seeing in the top photo. Me and some beautiful blue balloons that to my amazement that day were filled with helium! My oh my!