8 Apr 2015

What if teachers were recognised for their strengths and empowered to be more creative and entrepreneurial in the classroom?

It wasn’t until I became a teacher, or should I say facilitator, in higher education that I ever really thought of teaching as being a creative profession. 
What I most enjoyed about the role was the creation of assessment tasks that challenged and inspired both myself and my students. I also loved the opportunity to deliver lessons that were interesting and engaging for my students to assist them to learn various ways. I would often ask them how they learned best and would structure lessons around each different style of learning. I received feedback from the students that my lessons were fun and interesting as I wasn’t just standing at a powerpoint the whole time boring them with facts. They were able to be engaged and interactive, relating the learning to real life situations that were relevant in their world. 

I loved being entrepreneurial in creating my own style of delivery, my own projects from scratch, drawing inspiration both from other creative people and my students. Although quite challenging at times, It was a thrill to witness the students thrive in understanding the concepts and challenges I was presenting to them. 

It got me thinking…..

What if teachers were encouraged to be more creative and entrepreneurial in their approach to developing tasks and lessons for children and also in their approach to running their classes? What if their main strengths were recognised and encouraged to empower them in their teaching.

1. Often when I speak with teachers they don’t see themselves as being creative or they are so weighed down with the expectations and accountability of achieving results from children they don’t have a chance to feel creative let alone be creative in their approach to preparing for teaching. Sometimes it may take someone to give them an opportunity they haven’t yet been given, to be recognised or given permission to draw on their strengths in being more creative in their approach.

2. Each school is different so there are certain rules to follow and in some cases there are boundaries. Often creativity can be seen as a soft option or something you do in your spare time. But creative thinking is essential for our future. The creative thinkers of the past led us to where we are today. 
If it weren’t for those people who were willing to take a risk and ignore the negativity that came their way, we wouldn’t have methods to provide light, sound, glass, cold ice for our drinks, heating, timing devices, iPhones, robotics……. the list goes on.

3. How well do you know your teachers and their strengths? The more entrepreneurial and creative that teachers are able to be in shaping the learning around exploring the interests of the children, the more this will influence children in their own mindset about their future. If we are set in our ways and only stick to one path, how are we able to grow? How are our children being encouraged to think beyond the obvious and explore opportunities without fear if their teachers aren’t able to do the same? This includes their parents and other influences on their learning.

4. Why are entrepreneurs not discussed more in schools? The qualities of scientists, inventors, artists, explorers and other change makers are so inspiring and make for wonderful conversations with children, not to mention what can be learned from them. The lessons we can all learn about persistence, courage, resilience, creativity and empowerment could mean the difference for many children when deciding on their future paths. 

5. Asking teachers to reflect on their own strengths and abilities can provide you with ideas to empower them in ways they may have never thought possible. Providing this for teachers may be the catalyst for adding excitement and inspiration to their teaching. We want our teachers to love coming to work each day so they can make a difference in the lives and future for children. 

These are just a few thoughts to think about as you continue to build relationships and improve wellbeing in your learning community. 

Contact Rachel on 0419 371 876 to learn more about how Practically Learning can assist you in developing and inspiring a positive learning culture in your school to improve learning outcomes for children.

Weekly Perspective: In a recent report on US PBS Newshour, one school in Boston explained how they changed their approach and became a collaborative, teacher led school with more of a focus on the student at the centre of learning, having conversations and making decisions on how to achieve this. 

“I felt like I had lost inspiration and wasn’t able to teach how I’d learned how to teach. I was contributing to unnecessary pain for children. I couldn’t keep teaching and hold onto any integrity.” Susan Sluyter, Mission Hill School Boston USA.

“The motto in Finland is trust through professionalism. Too often the teaching profession is a heads down, get the job done….instead of having time to reflect on how the world is changing. How is what I’m teaching today different from what I taught 10 or 20 years ago? How does it need to be different?” Tony Wagner, Harvard University

"We’re going to use student voices to shape our curriculum, shape the curriculum around their interests.” Jenerra Williams, Mission Hill School Boston USA. 

Until next time, keep thinking…...and taking action!