Unleashing creativity in all classrooms

Angela Dewsbury looks at how can you teach for creativity, and asks why it is so important

Securing creativity in teaching and learning (T&L) requires curriculum managers to not only ensure their curriculum inspires this so that pupils are given every opportunity to develop their creativity; it also means ensuring your staff are equipped and confident in teaching for creativity in their classrooms so that innovative T&L events are standard.

Why do we need creativity?

Teaching for creativity is being seen as a wonder key to unlock students’ passion for learning. It is also a crucial way to equip them with the flexibility, adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience they will need to thrive in today’s world.

Being creative requires having the confidence to innovate and let your imagination fly, to allow your curiosity to roam, so new ideas and new meanings grow and your learning is taken to new levels.

But teaching for creativity takes careful planning and structure: it is not just about letting students run free with no direction to their creative work. It is about providing activities and a format for the learning that spark their imagination and provoke independent thinking so students feel excited by the learning opportunities opened up to them. They should feel confident about unleashing their imaginations, so their creative minds enable them to explore new territories in their learning.

Enabling teachers to use creativity

To achieve this in all classrooms, your teaching staff need to have the confidence to give more control to the learner and allow learning to go off in unplanned directions. They also need to have the flexibility and know-how to create a new learning pathway through the lesson as the students’ learning journey necessitates.

Teachers need to be given guidance on, and time to explore, how creativity can feed learning in their subject area. They need to be given opportunities to share and expand their skills for planning rich and dynamic learning tasks that will open doors to various creative avenues.

Teachers need every chance to build learning environments where creativity is stimulated. To help them in this, they need a curriculum framework that allows them to experiment with the timings of creative activities, as well as the groupings within which learners work on different creative challenges. They also need opportunities to co-teach with colleagues in larger learning spaces, where there is more opportunity to provide a carousel of learning activities that spark pupils’ motivation, allow greater creative choice, and help build students’ independent learning skills.

Planning for creative T&L

Creative T&L can stand or fall on the thought and planning that goes into designing the lesson format. Curriculum managers should work with teaching staff to tap into, build on and share their expertise at constructing lessons in a way that allows room for innovation, while also fulfilling curriculum requirements and meeting learning objectives. Working with the students themselves to find out what inspires and engages them most in their learning can provide invaluable insights into how to design future lessons for creativity, to create the ‘wow’ factor in the subject area and constantly arouse the learner’s curiosity and drive to learn more.

Creative thinking

Creativity involves working with others to co-create new understandings in learning by bouncing ideas around, sharing meanings and plotting solutions.

Helping ensure pupils can gain the most from creative teaching involves building in learners the vocabulary of thinking so that they can think through creative ideas more incisively.

Teachers need to be equipped to handle those inevitable moments where learners experience a creative block. They also need to be able to manage the times when they experience blockages in their own teaching for creativity, by seeking out new approaches from colleagues, sharing teaching strategies, and being willing and confident to try out new ideas.

Reaping the benefits of creativity

Pursuing a creative approach to T&L is an attitude towards learning, not something that you just bolt on to lessons now and again. So as curriculum manager, spending time assessing the level of creativity that goes on in T&L across your school, looking for ways to enhance your curriculum to inspire greater creativity and planning new ways to inject more creativity in the work of all your teaching staff will all pay dividends, not only in the achievements of your school, but in the enthusiasm and enjoyment of T&L experienced by pupils and staff alike.

On top of this, you will also be ensuring learners are given new opportunities to build the vital skills they will need to thrive in their lives beyond school. The pro-forma below is designed to help you start this planning process to work with your teaching staff to inject greater creativity in teaching and learning across your own school.

Question Answer Area(s) for improvement Order of priority
How regularly do you observe lessons to see how well teachers are achieving creative T&L that leads to deep, authentic and motivational learning for them and their students?      
How do you evidence whether your teaching staff are achieving creative, innovative, enriching and inspiring T&L that motivates and engages all learners?      
Do your teaching staff know how creativity translates into their subject area?      
Which departments need to be doing more to inject creativity in T&L?      
Which staff would benefit from greater training in how to boost creative T&L within their subject area?      
Are teachers providing variety in learning?      
Are teachers giving pupils more control over their learning?      
Are teachers confident and adept at allowing the learning to go off-task, and then carving a new learning pathway through the lesson in response to these changes in direction?      
Are all departments/teaching staff adept at creating a learning environment in their classroom that students want to occupy and are inspired by?      
Are they adept at providing the right types of resources that optimise creativity in the learning process?      
Are teachers skilled at building creative lesson designs that lead to more engaging T&L and greater innovation in the classroom?      
Are they skilled at providing inspiring lesson starts, core activities and plenaries that all feed into achieving the learning objectives in creative and engaging ways?      
Are they focused on building creative thinking skills in pupils within their lesson plans?      
Are they skilled at using questioning throughout the lesson to promote deeper learning and to allow creativity to flourish?      
Are they skilled at identifying any creative blockages experienced by pupils, and do they use effective strategies to help students overcome these stumbling blocks?      
Do you have strategies in place to help teachers overcome any blockages in their own creativity?      
How do you/will you in future involve students in giving feedback on lesson design?      
What action could you take to improve learning partnerships between teachers and pupils that inspire creativity in both?      
Having made this assessment, fill in the final column by ranking the different areas of action in order of your priority in your mission to achieve more inspiring and creative T&L across your school.


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