As teachers we often get into a rhythm, routine, and often a rut. We may have taught for a long time and feel like our materials are like that favorite sweatshirt from college: comfortable. We may be scared to expand into unknown approaches or feel too insecure to change it up. This can happen for many reasons, but it is important to remind ourselves every now and then to be creative.
A complete overhaul of our curriculum is not always necessary, but there are some small things that we can do to freshen up our outlook, approach, or techniques.
20 Ways to Increase Your Creativity as a Teacher
- Be Open to New Ideas: New things do not have to be frightening. Open your mind to new materials, teaching styles, classroom management systems. If they do not work for you, then move on.
- Find Your Own Passion: When you have your own interests outside of the classroom it makes you a more well-rounded human, teacher, parent, etc.
- Use Your Existing Strengths: Are you really good at adding games to your curriculum? Then do more of that! Are you an amazing communicator? Then work on strengthening that skill in your classroom practice. You are always more successful when you start ahead of the game.
- Document Your Creative Discoveries and Ideas: Carry a place to put ideas everywhere you go to capture creativity as it comes to you. You never know when or where you will be inspired.
- Lean into the Failures: When we fail, we learn. When we are too afraid to fail, we learn nothing. Lean into those failures and use them to grow personally and professionally.
- Ask Questions: Asking questions of your students, coworkers, and administrators can spark creativity and ideas for further study. You never know where the answers can lead.
- Be Flexible: We hear this all the time, but it is so true. Make a space for creativity and exploration in your classroom and do not be afraid if the lesson begins veering off in a different direction.
- Share Your Strengths and Have Students Share Theirs: When you share parts of yourself with your students, they will feel comfortable enough to share with you. When students can use their strengths in the classroom it increases their self-esteem.
- Step Back and Let it Happen: Don’t over teach and over-instruct. Step back and allow for discoveries to happen. Sometimes, more learning occurs when less teaching occurs.
- Decorate Your Space: If your space is creative so is your mind. Create a physical space for exploration and discovery.
- Add Technology to Your Lessons: An easy way to add some creativity to stale lessons is to incorporate technology. This could be as simple as adding a few websites for research or as complex as creating full-length films, graphic design, or creating digital portfolios.
- Work Outside of the Classroom: Every once in a while, venture outside your four walls and embrace new surroundings. Go into the hallway or out of doors.
- Play: Game-based learning is a fantastic way to stay creative and have fun while learning!
- Share Stories and Ask Students to Share Theirs: You may be inspired by the personal stories of your students and it is always a great way to fuse a classroom community. Sharing stories about yourself can spark a tighter team and bring you all closer together.
- Collaborate with Other Teachers: Collaboration allows for cross-curricular lessons and personal relationships.
- Share Your Own Work: When you share your own work with students and encourage them to share theirs, you open up an exchange of creative ideas and products.
- Expand Your Own Interests: Show your students how to be a lifelong learner.
- Reach Out to Parent Volunteers: Some parents of our students have some special abilities, talents, and skill-sets. Ask them to come in and show all of you something new.
- Discuss and Embrace Diversity: Share your personal journey and have students share their own cultures, traditions, and backgrounds.
- Plan for Creativity: Make sure you set time aside for creative thoughts and actions. Schedule it because it is important.
Make this year your most creative yet!
Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.