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.
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.