Thursday, January 02, 2014

Why Live Creatively

What does living creatively and sharing your passions with others have to do with teaching creative development?  More than you might think!  A creative lifestyle encompasses an interest in any discipline in which one moves longitudinally through the strands of creative development.  Take a look at your activities and passions through the lens of the Seven Strands of Creative Development.

To fully embrace all the benefits of creative development, it is important to create alongside your students.  We'll admit, it is easier said than done to work on your project while trying to be a coach and facilitator at the same time but well worth the effort to squeeze in a bit of time or at least document your progress in front of your students.  This accomplishes three goals:
  • In order to ask the students to learn through creative development, you need to be aware of the process yourself so that you can recognize the stages that each student is experiencing and where they need to go next.
  • It makes pursuit of an interest very real and relevant when students see that their teacher is on a level playing field with them.  
  • Students are apt to bond with their teacher as they see themselves as co-creators and part of a tight community that shares a common goal of creative development.  
Creative conversations are invigorating.  People's eyes light up and smiles bloom when give the opportunity to share their passion. Enthusiasm then starts to spill over into other areas of your life.
Want to encourage a culture of creativity with your colleagues?  Read on....
In her spare time, Stephanie writes poetry. She saw it as important to share her new interest with her colleagues and students, offering to share tips with teachers on how to get students engaged in poetry.  She also uses her poetry book as an example for students during shared writing and reading experiences.  Soon, her colleagues began sharing other creative interests with her such as photography, painting and writing.  Intrigued by the spontaneous conversations that were beginning to emerge, Stephanie realized that staff members were now interacting on a very different level.  

At her school, there is a bulletin board just inside the main entrance that showcases the staff members.  Rather than having photos and a brief bio, the following year the staff was presented as a creative bunch with interconnected interests.  For example, Stephanie had a picture of her family and a brief explanation of her journey into the world of poetry.  Three other staff members love photography, so they chose different samples of their work.  Whether gardening, painting, quilting or cooking, teachers chose to share what fired them with the school community.  Creative culture.  

We are designers of learning and also in pursuit of creativity in our personal lives.  It is this new image of teachers as creators and designers that needs to be recognized and promoted.  Staff members will enjoy a heightened sense of solidarity as they have opportunities to engage in these meaningful conversations.
Keep in mind that this is a gentle way to encourage creative conversations with your colleagues.  Go slow.  Even if these conversations take place between a few like-minded staff members, you are off to a good start.  
Further examples of educators living creatively and how it fuels their enthusiasm for teaching:
  • Erin Quinn started The Blank Canvas Project, where people create a piece of art to leave in a public place to inspire, invigorate, and bring joy to strangers.
  • Trina Penner tackled learning what an art journal (aka altered book) was all about as part of a project to push her creative boundaries.  (Trina is not a visual artist and has never taken art classes before. She considers herself more of a crafter.) She joined an art journal group and learned several techniques.  She produced a joyful book of tactile textures and sense-memory stories to house her new learnings. The journey helped her increase her creative confidence and make her a more sympathetic learning designer for her students as they embark on new territory in their classroom journeys.
  • Trina Penner started the Pink Voices Project in May of 2013 with ten lovely ladies at her high school. Her intent was for these young women to increase their self confidence via creative writing.  Her belief is that if you instill confidence in young women, you will automatically affect a positive change for future generations to come.  The gals may turn their writing into a performance piece once they have gathered enough tales.
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