How can educators keep ideas flowing when we are going to the same classroom everyday, constrained by more and more rules and requirements? So many teachers I have met say that they feel overwhelmed and end up repeating lessons year after year instead of trying something new. It seems almost impossible to keep our perceptions and outlook renewed when so much of our day is spent implementing prepackaged programs.
A private preschool in Queens, NY, recently hired me to teach my workshop: Activate Your Curriculum. We were working together to create movement based lessons for their preschool students when one teacher confessed to me. “I am so uncreative!” I was shocked to hear this since she was the one who was having the most fun- being goofy, coming up with idea after idea for her group to try. She thought creativity was something that either you have or you don’t. But just like cooking a great meal, creativity is a skill you can learn. You just need the right recipe!
Afterwards, I thought about it and realized that she wasn’t an uncreative person at all, she just needed to find a way to let go of old patterns. Collaborating with her fellow teachers was actually key for her to becoming more in touch with her creative side. Her recipe was getting input from her peers and having the time to experiment.
But since most of the time we are in a classroom full of children, how can we have the time and energy or opportunity to cultivate our creative side?
Here are three simple ways you can jumpstart your creativity and transform yourself and your classroom into a creative, inspiring workplace.
1. Start the day with a 10 minute workout to get juices flowing!
Throw out those songs that tell the kids what to do! (Sorry, Disney!) Have your students create their own routine. Test their memory by seeing if they can remember a sequence of 5 different active movements. Combine jumping marching stretching and twisting movements and have your students come up with images for each move, (jump like a kangaroo). Play music and have your kids come up with an action routine for the morning. Starting your day this way improves focus and concentration and your kids will love it!
2. Pass the baton!
Start a mini orchestra and hand over the baton to one of your kids. Let them lead the band, choosing which group of instruments to play. You can even create and record your class songs!
3. Limit those pre-printed coloring pages!
It is not all about performance! Creativity is an important part of learning so let your students learn in an atmosphere where it’s ok to make a mistakes, try new things, where there are activities they can do without being judged right or wrong. One example would be: open ended art projects where the artist can create without having to color inside the lines!
Cultivating a creative outlook will set you apart from your peers and indicate to the administration and parents that you are a teacher that inspires students to think and discover. It doesn’t take a lot of time and may well inspire the next Einstein sitting in your classroom!