With all the pressures of the teaching profession that comes from keeping up with the school curriculum, documentation, class preparation, running daily classes and meeting with the parents, it can be hard sometimes to be creative and inspiring n the classroom. Many teachers even wonder if it really makes a difference but it does.
Creative teaching doesn’t only seem different but it also feels different – it creates an environment where students feel free to express their ideas, tackle complex problems, think critically and learn more effectively.
Here are 4 top suggestions on how to be more creative in the classroom.
Take a creative approach to teaching
It’s important to approach teaching and the learning process creatively for the very start and incorporate creative ideas in all subjects, whether it’s history, foreign language, science or maths. Plan your lessons in a way that will encourage the exchange of different ideas and the exploration of new ideas.
One way to do this is by including a variety of playful games and visual exercises that will inspire motivate and excite young brains. You can use pictures, filmstrips, info graphics, movies, TED talks and various brain mapping tools. These methods help develop listening skills and improve students’ understanding of the matter.
If you’re tech-savvy, you might also use different smart apps for different ages to create fun quizzes, slide shows and presentations.
Make learning a hands-on activity
Most teachers agree that the most effective learning is by doing as it provides a more concrete and tangible experience than just reading a matter and listening to a presentation. When you get your hands dirty and conduct an experiment yourself, it’s more engaging and leads to a better consolidation of knowledge.
The key to effective learning is in the interaction and a proactive role that students take in order to learn something and the result is a higher level of naturally retained information and a greater understanding of the subject.
For instance, in an English class, instead of reading a text or a script, you can divide the students in groups and have them act out various sections. In Biology class, instead of reading about cells and looking at textbook pictures, have the students analyze it through a microscope. When you teach 3D shapes, let students create their own objects instead of looking at pictures, diagrams or finished models.
A great help in this aspect of teaching is the use of STEM teaching tools that can cover a great variety of subjects, from languages, art and science, in different grades and educational standards. Students love using these tools as it’s fun, relaxing and interesting in the way they allow them to explore the imagination and creativity. Moreover, students aren’t afraid to fail as it’s clear to them that it’s ok to try several times until they get it right. It’s trial-and-error learning at its best. They’re more open for communication which is the best mindset you could wish for in the classroom.
Re-think your classroom
Rigid and strict learning environments are a thing of the past as modern classroom has become more adaptable and flexible to meet the needs of various activities and learning needs. It’s no longer mandatory for students to sit only in rows of desks all day. It does happen sometimes but it’s much more common to sit in groups, work n pairs and give whole-class presentations.
The key to creating a good classroom flow is in a flexible and well-organised layout that allows a large empty floor space that can be utilized for different purposes. It’s crucial for every teacher to re-think their classroom layout in accordance with the planned class activity. This can sometimes mean even having classes outside in the form of a field trip that is relevant to the lesson.
Encourage discussions, debates and open-end questioning
One of the most important elements of a creative classroom is effective self-expression. It’s crucial for students to have the freedom to express their opinion and speak their mind so there needs to be an open approach to discussions. The role of the teacher is to is to facilitate meaningful conversations and challenge traditional opinions so that during interactive debates, the students can engage with the learning material and develop their critical thinking.
Curiosity is innate, especially in children, so it’s important to structure the lessons with open-ended questions. In a closed-question conversation, there’s no room for interpretation whereas with open-ended questions, students can put themselves in other people shoes, empathize and use the context to form their creative and thoughtful replies.
Although students often struggle with this concept, they quickly learn a variety of new skills, how to open their minds and think outside the box. They adapt fast and start to rely on their natural inquisitiveness and imagination to solve problems.
The learning process is a unique journey that every student embarks on early on and it’s the teachers’ responsibility to make that experience as creative and enjoyable as possible. By fostering a positive learning climate, introducing innovations and thought-provoking activities, creativity will flow unhindered.