The last few years in education have seen a dramatic shift in so many different areas— from hiring practices to instructional approaches to the way students learn. A wide variety of research attributes these shifts to pandemic education, but these shifts have been in the works for years and the pandemic just happened to accelerate it. While the last few years have been challenging, they have also brought about opportunity for innovative thinking in the way educators approach their practice. As an instructional coach, I have had the pleasure to visit classrooms over the last few years and creativity and innovation are widespread and abundant.
When I am coaching educators and the conversation shifts toward creativity, I notice a change in their demeanor and they often respond with “I’m just not that creative.” Society has assigned the word “creative” to describe artists and musicians and, consequently, it isn't used very often to describe educators. However, creativity manifests in a variety of different ways and as we evolve as a society, it is a skill that is more important than ever for our students. Modeling is essential in all areas of education and if educators don’t embrace their own creativity, then we are doing our students a disservice in their own creative identity development.
Incorporating creativity is essential for students because it promotes risk taking and new ways of thinking. When teachers provide a space for students to grapple with novel situations and solve new problems it encourages them to engage in a way that makes sense to them. If students are given the chance to exemplify their learning in a way that makes sense to them, not only do they get to preview a variety of approaches to the same problem, but it develops positive self-esteem and helps cultivate a sense of autonomy which is important for positive social growth and interaction.
Additionally, opportunities for creative expression in the classroom like design thinking or makerspace lead to more engagement because students are able to establish their own goals for learning and focus on areas that are of genuine interest to them. When students are interested in the content they are learning, they are more motivated to excel which means they are less likely to give up when faced with a challenging situation.
As we continue to empower students in this new normal of education, educators need to consider how they can intentionally build in chances for creativity and innovation. Instruction without Boundaries includes research-based approaches to creativity and innovation in the classroom and incorporates pragmatic approaches to activities like choice boards, design thinking and makerspace, digital portfolios, etc. Additionally, each of these activities includes clear directions as to how you can best integrate edtech in a way that is meaningful to enhance the creative thinking of your students regardless of the environment.
As we prepare students for the future, creative thinking is a skill that is essential to excel in a variety of areas and industries. In order to ensure students have a chance at success, educators need to start embracing their creative selves, accept the reality that they are, in fact, creative individuals in their own unique ways, and that they have the power to make all the difference.
About the Author
Name: Shannon Moore
Bio: Shannon Moore is a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for the Educator Support department in Visalia USD. She values connections, communication, innovation, creativity, and progressive-thinking in the classroom. She is a Google Trainer, Adobe Education Leader, and Pear Deck Coach. When she is not working on changing the world of education, she is hanging out with her husband and her two cats, or reading a good book while sipping a hot cup of coffee.
About the Book: The purpose of Instruction Without Boundaries: Enhance your Teaching Strategies with Technology Tools in Any Setting is to provide K-16 teachers and school leaders with a complete toolkit of research-based instructional strategies integrated with EdTech tools to amplify student learning regardless of whether the classroom is in an online, blended, concurrent, or traditional in-person classroom setting.