Sir Ken Robinson once said in a TED Talk that "Teaching is creative profession."
I love that line.
Because of systems in place, as well as cultural stereotypes, and Mrs. Crabapple from The Simpsons, it is very easy to believe that teachers are just walking textbooks, or playback machines, or mindless dictators (ok, maybe I can be a little dictatorish sometimes). But these descriptions are limiting, because at the heart of teaching is creativity.
Think about the amount of creativity that goes into your own personal classroom management, and the way you have learned to improvise in different situations in your classroom.
How you’ve developed a look that can make bullies tremble.
And another one that can send a child home prouder than they have ever been. Or think about the creativity it takes to talk an angry parent down, or to turn a classroom into a safe haven for your students.
Teaching takes immense creativity, and you can pour that same ingenuitive spirit and inspiration to introduce conflict and authenticity into projects and lessons your class takes part in. Make it part of your planning time. Give yourself scheduled time to sit down and do nothing but brainstorm. Teachers have to get away from the mindset that school is just about delivering content and using our time to plan solely on how to deliver it. Content is important, and can still be a major target in our classrooms, but rarely is it enough to motivate a student to work hard and with passion. Passion and work ethic from most students must be derived from somewhere else. Otherwise you have to become comfortable with a bunch of students who are satisfied with getting C’s and doing just enough to get by.
The other option is to inject authentic conflict into our classrooms. Make the time students spend with you everyday be full of purpose. Foster an environment that makes kids wake up in the middle of the night with an idea to solve the problem your class has presented them with.
Conflict is good.
We want conflict.
And to create real conflict in your classroom just takes a degree of creativity.