Importance of having a Creative Environment
There are many reasons why it is important to make a classroom a comfortable, creative environment. First, students will be able to express themselves better. Second, they can come up with better ideas to improve their problem-solving skills. Third, your students can learn faster. Altogether, they will contribute to a positive learning experience for both you and your students. The creative classroom must be supportive, high tolerance of mistakes and errors which supports risk taking, and encourages discussions and questioning.
Your role as a teacher in the Creative Classroom environment
As creativity is about exploring new ideas, you may encounter a situation that you will not understand what the student is saying. Students might make comparisons or have ideas that do not make sense. They might even say something completely random about something or even give the wrong answer, you response is everything. Your students might not make sense sometimes, however, you should not discourage or be critical of what your students say. Doing so may discourage them from participating in the lesson and explore their creativity in the process. Remember, creativity is a process and each student has their own. It is extremely important to defer judgement in your classroom as a whole and start moving to a place of curiosity. If you do not understand your student – ask clarifying questions. You are modeling the expectations in your class.
Signs of students demonstrating creative thinking skills
Students that demonstrate their creative thinking skills do the following:
Express unique ideas
Choose to demonstrate an idea in their own way
Asks silly or weird questions
Works on open-ended exercises with enthusiasm
Moves beyond facts and discusses ideas
Opts to find alternate ways in looking at the problem rather than well-established ones
Activities to encourage creative thinking
Here are five ways you can encourage creativity in your classroom.
Reward students for thinking creatively
As students come up with their own answers, encourage them by praising their willingness and drive to stick with a challenge. Encourage them to be ok with ambiguity and how problem solving can be exciting but frustrating. Give feedback such as “That’s a great way of putting it!” or “It’s an interesting idea, can you explain more?” will help your students think more while flexing their creativity. You want to consciously work beyond yes and no answers and strike discussions that involve higher order thinking skills. Provide your students with challenges and open-ended projects where they can practice critical thinking and creative. Check out my genius hour series for information on open-ended projects.
Develop skills that will bring forth creativity
Aside encouraging the creative mindset and praising their grit and tenacity, one other way to bring this skill out in students is by exploring a variety of activities in the classroom. It is preferred to have several open-ended activities that will let your students think independently and explore the lesson in their own way. Allowing expression of student creativity in their own way is beneficial.
Encourage out-of-the-box thinking
Letting your students be “out-of-the-box” is a simple way to exercise their creativity. This can be done in several ways. My suggestion is to ask open questions about what you are teaching. For example, while exploring the different forms of matter, you could ask them “What would happen if you mix two forms of matter together?” This will encourage them to imagine what would happen and get to the answer on their own before you introduce them to the subject material. Allowing their imagination to allow them to explore the material before getting into concrete information can help with student learning.
Give your students the chance to lead a classroom activity
Students learn best when they are part of the planning process. One great activity is have your students help you design a unit of inquiry. They can be part of the process of creating a learning unit and the activities that will help them learn. Co-creating is a good process to work through with your students. As a teacher, you can prepare the unit ahead of time because you probably have a good grasp of what students will ask. A great classroom tool to help students co-create the unit is the KWL tool. This is where students will list everything they know about a topic under K (Know), W (want to learn) under this section they would brainstorm all the questions they want to learn about — this is where you co-create together, and at the end of the unit or lesson students will list what they learned under the L. This is one of my favorite strategies!
Create time for self-reflection
Give students time to think for themselves. After letting your students watch a video on the lifecycle of butterflies, give them a few minutes to think about what they saw. Everyone has different processing times but we all have them. Be cognizant of your students processing times. During that time, they can think of what to say once you ask them about the video.
Inciting creativity in students may seem like a monumental task, however it is important to reassure them through the process. Doing this will not only boost their confidence in being creative but feel better about being who they are. When we are thinking about creativity, we need to think about the creative mindset (person) and support what each student needs to have the creative mindset. We need to examine the creative environment that we are creating and make sure that we positively support cognitive processes. We also need to think about what creative processes we have in place and how we approach our lessons.
There is so much to write about creativity which I will be doing – this blog post was to help you understand how creativity is important in the classroom and the basics of making your classroom environment creative.
Do you have any tips on inspiring creativity in the classroom that I didn’t mention? Comment them down below!
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