Creativity had always been a vague subject for me, though something I always aspire to have. I am a big fan of the arts, therefore, I am always awed by the creativity of artists expressed through paintings, pictures, films, songs, etc.
That’s why when I was given the role as a Creative Writing teacher in my work now, I panicked. I panicked because I wasn’t confident of my creativity enough to boost my students’ creativity as well. I’ve been hibernating from writing prose and poetry for what feels like forever, so I was, and still worried about how to go about my teaching of this subject. Nonetheless, through trials and errors, I am gradually making sense of my role and finding better ways to fit my students’ learning.
Reading through our module resources for this week, I am given a broader view of what a creative teacher is. I initially thought of creative teacher as someone who a natural artist, a bit unorthodox in the manner of teaching, but engaging. You know, the kind of one-in-a-million teacher you’d find in movies. Well, I’m glad that the readings are assuring that anybody can be a creative teacher, and we must be in order to be effective as well, if we can observe in ourselves the following characteristics and core practices stated in Creative Teachers and Creative Teaching by Teresa Cremin (2009):
- Curiosity and a questioning stance
- Being curious and having a desire to learn about life in general, especially about his/her learners
- teachers stimulate creativity through asking questions and encouraging students to ask questions as well
- Connection making
- bridging personal experiences to topic knowledge to be better understood
- making efforts to learn about students’ interest to use for teaching as well as creating a positive relationship
- Autonomy and ownership
- teachers are flexible and confident
- “builds on learners’ interest and their social/cultural capital, as well as curriculum requirements” (p.42)
- Fostering originality
- preparedness to take risks to try new ideas and develop their creative skills
- collaborating with other professionals
Somehow, I’ve been practicing on some of these, but I wasn’t even aware they are considered “creative”. I’m not complaining though. Especially connection-making, I always thrive to build a positive relationship with my students in and out of class because it makes it easier to work together and I can always cite personal experiences as examples to explain a concept. In our reading program, we always make use of questions to establish comprehension. Though it’s tough answering the question “Why?” especially when a very curious child throws it in succession, it is a good indication that I have triggered their curiosity and has a desire to learn.
As of now, I have to work more on collaborating with other teachers to gain new knowledge and technique. I’m more of an observer when it comes to this job, but in order to work more effectively I’d have to be more open to others’ suggestions and perspective in teaching and learning. On the other hand, flexibility is good, but it’s not easily done in the actual classroom. Nonetheless, I am building on this characteristic. It’s true that you have to bend a few rules sometimes to solve a problem.
For example, I had a 3-yeard-old who had difficulty substituting and deleting sounds in a word. Since our lesson is phonemic awareness, the child builds his/her reading skills through the recognition of letters by sound and a word made up of individual sounds. More difficult categories of this awareness is manipulation of sounds in a word to create a new one. In this program, we don’t make use of word families (-in, -at, -up, etc.) because it contradicts with our lesson about blending individual sounds to make a word. However, since the prescribed techniques are not working for phoneme deletion and substitution, I had to teach word families and build a routine of recognition for it since she’s good in 2-letter sounds and patterns. Eventually, after a week of drills using word games, flashcards, videos, etc., we were able to reach our goal.
During that time, I was frustrated at the same time determined and challenged. And at the moments I thought of the beauty of teaching; it’s not only a profession that helps student learn, but it’s a profession that would assure me a life-long learning and would build on the creativity I’ve always desired.
Cremin, T. (2009). Creative teachers and creative teaching (Chapter 3). In Wilson, A. (Ed.). Creativity in Primary Education (2nd ed.). Southernhay East, Exeter: Learning Matters, pp. 36–46.