I’m pretty sure that creativity as an overarching theme in the classroom is probably not at the fore of your thinking at this point in the year. You surely have more important things to address at this point, such as instructional delivery (are we face-to-face, can we go longer than a day-and-a-half without getting shut down, etc.) and closing gaps caused by the pandemic shutdown. Certainly, these items will drive your planning and practice; however, I do believe that creativity can play a big role in improving instruction and student engagement even now.
Creativity shouldn’t be just one more thing that is checked off the professional development list. It should be a natural part of the classroom. In the article Fundamental of Creativity, authors Ronald Behetto and James Kaufman provide the following five insights about bringing creativity into the classroom:
- Creativity takes more than originality. Creativity combines originality and task appropriateness. Students who find ways to bring their unique perspectives into the classroom and still meet the requirements of the work assigned are creative.
- Creativity occurs on many different levels. Kaufman and Beghetto offer four levels of creativity: mini-c (interpretative creativity), little-c (everyday creativity), Pro-C (expert creativity), and Big-C (legendary creativity). Be aware of the levels of creativity and how they may be operating in your classroom.
- Context is critical. Teachers should be aware of things in their practices that may limit or fully inhibit creativity and work to eliminate those things. Increasing student choice in tasks or materials may help open up the flow of student creativity.
- Creativity costs. It involves work, risk, and understanding of content matter. It also involves students putting themselves out there in front of their peers. Teachers need to share the pros and cons of attempting something different and let students be informed decision-makers regarding how they engage.
- Creativity is part of the whole. It needs to be taught and encouraged, but it is still just one piece of the overall educational puzzle. As such, students and teachers alike need to be mindful how and when creativity should be addressed.
As you plan for the return to face-to-face instruction next week, keep these fundamentals in mind. Plan for creativity as appropriate under the current unstable circumstances. You and your students will be glad you did!