Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Allowing Creativity

“Which students are doing the creative work in your school? Who has the most opportunities to work on projects, solve problems, collaborate with classmates, develop ideas, design products, and publish for authentic audiences? If your school is like most schools, I'm guessing your strongest learners have the most opportunities.”

It is easy to give the strongest students independent work or projects that involve creativity. Usually, the strongest students are willing to be creative and take risks because they have had successful experiences in the past. The stronger students aren’t as needy as the weaker students, so it gives the teacher more time to do other things.

But sometimes it isn’t the stronger students who get the most benefits out of doing creative work. Maybe these weaker students need more help in order to have more successful experiences so in turn, they can work towards being the stronger students. Success breeds success but if we only allow the successful ones the opportunities for more success, the gap between the stronger and weaker students grows enormously.

It is important to figure out what the weaker students need in order to complete creative projects. Maybe they don’t know where to begin. It would be helpful to create a task analysis for the students so they can move in a sequential order to get started. The creative ideas will come during the steps, but it will be helpful to know where that step is. Once the students feel comfortable in the process, they will be able to branch out and become more creative. After a few successful tries, they will be willing to try more on their own. Eventually, these students will transform into the stronger students.

It also important to let students know that creativity is fun to try and the outcome may not be the outcome they expect. If the outcome is different, it isn’t a failure. It is just something new and if they don’t like the outcome, they can try again with adjustments. For example, if I want to knit something new, my finished work might not turn out as I had hoped. I may try again using different yarn or different techniques to see if I can it to turn out the way I want. Sometimes it may take several attempts to get what I envisioned. This is part of the process and it is okay if it takes several attempts. Or I might actually like the outcome even if it isn’t what I expected. This is also okay.

It might also be helpful to assign students who have had successful creative experiences as mentors for the weaker students. They can remember how they felt going through the process. They might also help their peers from making the same mistakes that they did. Maybe they need inspiration or motivation. This mentoring process might also trigger more creative ideas and enthusiasm.

How do you encourage students to be more creative in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash

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