Blog Challenge: Teaching as a Creative Act

Teaching is a creative act because you are balancing the process with the product while engaging an audience that is diverse, unique and also part of the cast. Creativity thrives on limitations and obstacles.

The limitations and obstacles that enter the fold are challenging, fluid, and intertwined. There are a few limitations and obstacles that teachers must acknowledge and overcome in order to be considered creative.

The Physical Space:

The school, and specifically the classroom demand a design plan that can promote collaboration, creativity, and community. I don’t have to remind us of the recent news of classroom closures to suggest the obstacle facing the arts and french language teachers. The physical space cannot be ignored, the design must be flexible to allow for structure and student voice to co-exist. This voice becomes another limitation and obstacle.

The Cast & Crew:

Your students, colleagues, and community are diverse and therefore must be independently valued while finding commonalities to build bridges and support the system as a whole. A teacher must address the basic needs of their students before any learning can take place. You must know the learner as an individual in order to value their role in the larger community and provide opportunities for personal success. This is true for the staff and community. We often forget about the next limitation and obstacle that any strong act must master in order to be successful, and that is the transition.

The Transition:

Never underestimate the transition. A teacher must master the art of moving from one activity, lesson, and unit to another. Creating seamless movements from one to another allow for students to make meaningful connections to their learning as a whole. True momentum occurs between subjects not during a specific unit or lesson. I can compare this to the feeling of watching a great movie or theatre show. When the house lights come up at the end and you realize the world you were in was different and engaging- that moment- is when you know a transformation has taken place. There is a guiding question that will start this journey and remain the most important question throughout.

What’s the Point?

You need to know why you are doing what you are doing. What’s the point of designing your classroom? What’s the point of knowing your students, colleagues, and community? What’s the point of transitions? This separates the one-hit-wonder lessons from truly genuine moments of learning and engagement. If someone asks you “What’s the Point?” and you don’t have an answer, it’s probably not worth continuing.

I make a lot of connections to my work in theatre to my work in the classroom. They all revolve around the goal of engaging an audience in the delivery and discovery of the world around them. I am privileged to engage creatively everyday in this exploration.

 

 

Day 100: Inspire(d)

As a new(er) teacher I am often inspired by colleagues I work with, people I meet at PD, and tweeters who I follow daily. 

Ideas and sparks ignite my learning and push me to try new things. This blog is a product of that above inspiration. It doesn’t take much, just a nudge or a supporting comment, it can happen indirectly too.

You never know who you will inspire, or what you may be inspired by. Inspiration is not something you can actively seek out, I believe it is a moment in time where the right people and right ideas come together.

I tried to look for inspiration to write about throughout this blog. I often found when I was trying to find it I was not successful. It was when I listened that I realized that everyday moments of creativity and wonder are all around. It sounds a little cheesy, but perhaps this blog has helped me become a better listener. 

I look forward to writing more in the future, just not everyday. Thank you for those who read and stayed with me throughout this journey. Your words of encouragement and discussions added meaningful purpose to this process.

Onto the next #100daychallenge!

Day 99: The Next Chapter

This blog was created to challenge myself to keep a routine for 100 days and to improve my writing in the process.

I feel like I need to have something planned for after this is done, but I’m not sure how I want to structure it. I am the type of person that can handle a day or two without a plan or something to do…after that I feel like I am wasting time. 

Recently I have been taking advantage of the Island Lake trail located in Orangeville, a beautiful 8+ kilometre trail that is filled with friendly locals and visitors…perhaps this is my next 100 day challenge? 

I know that I have to find something that can fit into the schedule. It’s easy for me to plan something now as I approach my upcoming vacation…perhaps a little break will allow me to find something that will fit, or it (whatever it is) will find me.

1 more to go!

Day 98: Tech Assumptions

Let’s continue with some questions to think about regarding technology. I learned this use that there is an equitable issue regarding access. 

My assumptions included that all of my students had regular access to consistent Internet. I learned a few months in that this was not the case.

I have a questionnaire I would like to ask my families in September. This will inform how I communicate with families.

What questions would you add/change/keep/delete?

1. Describe your access to high speed internet.

2. What technology do you feel comfortable using and have access  (mobile phone, tablet, Internet, e-mail, text message, etc).

3. Do you prefer online communication or paper copies (newsletters).

4. If you don’t have Internet, do you have access to community resources (the library)? Would you be willing to spend 1 hour per week at a resource centre to access online resources?

5. How much screen time does your child view everyday? Every week? And what is the breakdown in that screen time (e.g., tv, computer, tablet, gaming console).

Day 97: #longweekend

It has been an abnormally busy day so that = short post.

3 questions without answers, perhaps you can fill some in.

1) What’s the most under used piece of tech in your classroom/school?

2) What’s the most needed tech in your classroom/school that you don’t have?

3) What’s happens to your usual day of all the tech was removed? 

Day 96: Is the 21st Century Outdated?

I have seen a variety of tweets and blogs that argue that 21st century as a reference to modern teaching terminology is already outdated since we are 16 years into the century.

I believe 21st century teaching and learning is still relevant and is just beginning to actually take shape.

At the beginning of the century, from 2000-2010, I spent time as a student in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions. When returning in 2012 as a student teacher I had noticed a significant change to how I was instructed to teach from how I was taught. 

It seemed that the way I was taught was part of the old model, and during my transition from secondary to post-secondary this had suddenly shifted. 

I think that by calling it 21st century teaching and learning we chronologically acknowledge a shift in the system. I can imagine that by the end of this century we will have shifted/evolved several times. 

For now, let’s recognize it as 21st century. 

Day 95: Teach to the Top of Their Intelligence 

Another borrowed rule from the world of improvisation.

When playing a character on stage, you must respect each character and play it to the top of their intelligence. It promotes a deeper level of play that moves beyond the surface where stereotypes are found and into a world of archetypal journeys.

I try and take this idea and apply it to every human interaction I have, including teaching. A common obstacle is telling yourself that your students can’t do something before you give them an opportunity to try. 

You may know your students very well, but don’t forget that you are allowed to be surprised by them once in a while too, provide opportunities for that to happen. Discoveries are richer when they also grow your perspective of your own students. 

Provide project based learning instead of just projects. You’ve seen my genius hour posts, but it doesn’t have to be genius hour. If you cap your students potential you allow yourself to therefore cap your own ability to move them forward. 

There are many obstacles in life that our students will have to face, school is a time to push their limits and provide them support and encouragement as they try new things. 

How can we expect them to reach for the stars if we have grounded their potential by limiting our expectations of their success?

Teach to the top of their intelligence.

Day 94: University isn’t for Everyone, and it’s Okay!

A report today released by Ottawa University suggests that those with a post secondary degree could expect a higher and quicker rising income over their non-university counterparts.

A quick aside to note that when a university publishes a report on how good going to university is, you need to be a little skeptical. I haven’t looked over all of the report as this post isn’t about the merits of this, rather the implication that university is better.

The goal of the traditional education system is for everyone to keep moving up. The true success stories then are those who float at the University professor level. Please note that I value university and professors…but we all don’t have to go to one or be one to be successful and happy.

Choosing an option after secondary school shouldn’t be based on an option list that promotes university at the top, all options need to be valued equally. I believe that learning should be based on interest and passion, not on economically benefits. 

Can you measure success by numbers? Sure! How do you measure happiness within that success? I’m not sure. 

We can however strive to provide equitable access to all options, including university. We must be careful to make sure that we also contribute positive examples towards the workplace, gap year, and other options. 

As educators we must make sure we acknowledge that university was the correct path for ourselves, but that it isn’t always the best or right option for our students. Think about every student in the system is being taught by a university educated person, we must ensure that we consistently provide examples of the other pathways.

Day 93: Find Your Challenger

I am fortunate to be surrounded by a group of dedicated educators who are compassionate, passionate, and driven when it comes to their pedagogy. I have learned that I have two choices when discussing pedagogy with colleagues:

1) Take it personally and risk the opportunity to gain another insight that could enhance my own perspective.

OR

2) Listen and engage critically in discussion, understanding that the one of the great strengths of my profession is the unique approaches that are out there.

The 1st option is that of a fixed mindset and limited, how boring would it be if everyone just agreed. I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you I started off as the 1st option, I think it’s a common approach in the early years. Teachers college I found was very positive, but I could have benefited from more critical partnerships.

You want to make sure you surround yourself with those who will support you, and understanding that support sometimes looks like challenges and questioning your approaches. 

The important key to always remember is not to take it personally, take it professionaly. 

Day 92: Blogging Discoveries

As I near the 100 day post I look back on what I have learned over the past 90ish days. 

Part of me thought I wouldn’t be able to make it everyday, and aside from one late post after midnight I have managed to keep it on track. By posting to Twitter I felt an outside obligation that kept me accountable.

Some posts came naturally while others took longer to think about. I am finding it difficult in the summer to keep it interesting as I am not in the school mind mode as much. I think this is more so because I am not collaborating with colleagues…I miss that part during the summer.

I never took this on to have people follow and read, but it has been encouraging to hear feedback and responses. My goal was to improve my writing, something I used to do regularly but had stopped in recent years.

As for the future of my blogging I think that stopping would be counter to why I started. Perhaps a weekly post instead of daily could be a realistic expectation. I can’t get a ahead of myself, still a final week of daily posts to go!