by Chelsea Baldwin ( Gulf Shores Middle School/@ChelseaSBaldwin)
With the push of new and rigorous standards, it's easy for us teachers to get caught up in the world of testing, assessing, and STRESSING. Due to this, many teachers feel as if there is no time or place for creativity in their classrooms.
But are the standards to blame?
No--Well, at least I don't think so. I believe the standards actually provide me with more freedom to be creative in my classroom. Yes, the standards are rigorous. Yes, they may not always be intriguing to you or your colleagues. However, they allow us as teachers to raise the bar for our students, to challenge them in ways we have never thought of, and to CREATE engaging lessons that ensure our students are prepared for the skills and knowledge needed in the real world.
Sounds simple enough, right? The message conveyed may sound that way, but we all know it is not that simple. Creating engaging yet challenging material is difficult. It takes time--a lot more time than most of us feel we have. However, I have come to learn in order to create the innovative yet rigorous lessons I want my students to experience, I have to put forth the time. Yes, creating valuable lessons takes time up front, but the real and worthwhile learning that stems from it is what makes it all worth it. One way to help with the time issue is finding good resources.
With all the resources at our fingertips, there are plenty of ways to be creative without stressing over how you are going to transform previous lessons into challenging and engaging ones. May these ways be different than your notion of creativity? Maybe. Nonetheless, the resources are out there. For me, the best resource for creative yet challenging lessons are other teachers. Many of the lessons and projects going on in my class this year have been inspired by other teachers across the country...and guess what? They are challenging, they are tied with the standards, and they are engaging for my students. So...Connect and collaborate with teachers through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook; share your ideas; ask questions; but most importantly, TAKE RISKS! If a lesson plan or project intimidates you, then you're doing something right. Some of my best lessons this school year were ones I just knew were going to go terribly wrong. However, my students always found a way to surprise me.
Back to the original question: "Creativity in the classroom...have we lost it?"
Yes. Maybe for some of us, we have. But nothing is lost that cannot be found. We can still be creative in our classrooms. We can still challenge our students. It may be different, scary, or uncomfortable--but it is possible.