A creative teacher is the best inspiration for students to be more creative. In the last blog I discussed how to set the tone for the beginning week of school by defining what both teacher and students thought was the meaning of creativity. If you have other ways to accomplish this very necessary task in five minutes or less each day of class for the first week of school, please share your ideas! Every teacher wants fresh "twists" on techniques and strategies to engage students from the first seconds of class.
Once you all have a working definition of Creativity, several procedures can help cement the importance that you place on creative ideas in your class. You can share a creative quote a day, like the one that I quoted as a title above by Albert Einstein. Discuss the meaning and how it can be a positive to be "contagious"...( possibly introduce connotation and literal meanings). Why would you want it to be contagious?
OR try a simple layered brainstorming process like listing ways to do some simple classroom function like sharpen a pencil. After all first thought ideas are listed, ask for more, varied and unique ideas. See how the infection of thinking creatively spreads through class. If you as the teacher can list who offers ideas, linking them to the next person who had an idea, to make a graphic of the discussion, soon a great web of creative thinking will be evident...post the web outside your door with the creative problem or quote of the day.
As your students get more excited about having the freedom and permission to be creative, more creative responses will be offered. This is a skill, however, that cannot be done only once and reap extended benefits. You must practice often to keep creative minds lubricated.
I often ask students to circle their best idea, their worst idea, and their most unique or weirdest when they brainstorm on paper, in their journals, or sketchbooks. They then pair share, group share, or write their three ideas on sticky notes and place on the board. As a class we then try to group, categorize or link like ideas. Connections are necessary for creative thoughts. When you add such a visual and/or kinesthetic layer to simple brainstorming, the ideas seem to stick in young minds.
In the first two weeks of school, your class should be using the definition of creativity that they have agreed upon to help write a Creativity Constitution that enumerates right and responsibilities of a creative student and of a creative teacher. Since you will already be defining many class procedures and a few rules, it makes great sense to show the importance of creativity in your room by posting this Creative Constitution...(i.e. We have the right to speak our minds creatively...but we have the responsibility to not make disparaging comments or hurt others' feelings.)
Now the stage is set for a shared community of creative minds, who have rights and responsibilities and who will grow over the year to excitedly share, positively recognize , and whole-heartedly celebrate each other's creativity, to truly engage in the 21st century skill of creative problem-solving. If you have ideas on how to validate creative ideas, create a community of creatives in your classroom, or even "infect" students with creativity "pass it on" right here!