Creativity isn’t always something that just happens. It can take quite a bit of work to nurture, grow, and develop creativity, even for those who are immersed in creative and dynamic fields. For educators, it can be even more of a challenge to inspire creativity in students or embrace your own creativity while trying to juggle academic requirements, testing, and other issues in the classroom. It may be difficult but it’s certainly not impossible, and accomplishing it can help to create a classroom environment that’s more motivational, interesting, and educational for both you and your students. So how do you get there? Here are some tips that can help you get creative in the classroom in a variety of ways.
FINDING CREATIVE INSPIRATION
Not sure where to begin? These tips will help you master the fundamentals and take the critical first step towards a more creative classroom.
BE OPEN TO NEW IDEAS.
Even the most open-minded of us sometimes get stuck in a rut and can’t see that there are other, potentially better ways of doing things. Break out of that and try to be open to new ideas, even if they seem strange at first.
It’s hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but it may be just what you need to really get creative. Work with new groups of students, teach new topics, or try out something you’re not comfortable with. It might work, it might not, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.
FIND INSPIRATIONAL PLACES.
Some lucky people may be able to find inspiration in a broom closet, but others of us need a place that pushes us toward inspiration. Whether it’s a park, your living room, or even a place in your school, head there and get your creative juices flowing.
While some people work better under stress, most of us find it to be a creativity killer. To really get in touch with your creative side, relax and don’t force ideas to come.
Sometimes you just need to clear your mind of all the old clutter to be able to open it up to new, innovative ideas.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS.
While challenging yourself is great, it can be tiring. Work with your strengths in your creative journey as well, and you’re much less likely to feel burnt out.
CAPITALIZING ON THE CREATIVE SPARK
If you’ve got creativity in spades, you need to start taking the next steps to make use of it. Here, we offer some ideas that can help.
SET ASIDE TIME FOR CREATIVE THINKING.
It’s hard to be creative when you don’t have any time to even do so much as think about being creative. Make it a priority to set aside a few minutes of your day for free thinking and ensure that your students aren’t so overwhelmed with homework that they don’t have time to be creative.
DEVELOP CREATIVE IDEAS, DON’T LET THEM DIE.
It’s not enough to just come up with a creative idea; you have to follow through. Be willing to spend the time nurturing your ideas and developing them into something worthwhile and useful. Encourage students to do the same.
Much like your muscles, your brain can get weak if you’re not pushing it. Read, learn, and challenge your own mind to keep it sharp. You’ll not only be more creative, but you’ll also likely be a better teacher for it.
LOVE WHAT YOU DO.
Nothing will make you feel more creative and inspired than truly loving what you do. If you’re feeling stressed, remind yourself how great your job really is. It’s bound to help you feel a little more creative and inspired.
IMAGINE YOUR CLASSROOM AS A BUSINESS.
If you were an art director or innovation manager how would you inspire your employees? Use those same tactics in your classroom!
CELEBRATE SUCCESSFUL FAILURES.
Lesson tanked? Great idea didn’t pan out? Don’t get yourself down. Failure is part of the creative process, and sometimes failures can actually be great successes if they teach you something in the process.
It’s fine to use ideas that originate with others, but don’t borrow: buy in completely. Even when you’re inspired by someone else’s style or ideas, make them your own by improving them, changing them, or personalizing them in some way.
The best ideas always sound a little crazy at first. Suspend judgment until you have all the information.
EXPLORE ALL POSSIBILITIES.
When you write off certain things as being impossible, then you limit your creative potential. Explore possibilities fully, even if you think they’re a long shot.
Want to help your students to be more creative? Then show them how it’s done! Be a model of creativity and they are sure to follow.
ENCOURAGE MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS.
If there’s always a definitive right and wrong in your classroom then there won’t be much room for creative thought. Encourage multiple viewpoints and different ideas, even if they don’t always match your own.
If your students come from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, then take advantage of this diversity and highlight ideas and values from each of their cultures. It’s not only educational, but it helps to show them that there’s more than one way to do things.
Books are excellent places to find inspiration, information, and creative ideas. Demonstrate the importance of reading (books, magazines, newspapers, or even comics) to kids.
ASK OPEN QUESTIONS.
As simple as it is, asking students questions can be an amazing tool in getting them to think creatively. Just make sure the questions are open enough to allow them to come up with their own answers and not feel bound by your expectations.
FIND PERSONAL MEANING.
Helping students to connect their ideas to their own experiences and emotions can make projects take on a deeper meaning and may just encourage a whole other level of creativity.
Multiple choice tests are easy to grade, but there isn’t much room for creative thinking on them. Answers are either wrong or right. To boost creative thinking in the classroom, show students you value it by creating assignments and tests that use it.
REWARD CREATIVE IDEAS AND PROJECTS.
Put your money where your mouth is when it comes to creativity in the classroom by rewarding and praising students who think creatively, even if you don’t necessarily like or agree with their ideas.
Many kids are so afraid of failure that they’re unwilling to take risks in how they approach learning new things. Help assuage that fear by encouraging smart risk-taking, which can help students to make new breakthroughs, think outside the box, and grow as individuals.
Not every creative idea will be a success, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t useful or valuable. In fact, some early mistakes have served as the basis for some pretty great things later on. Analyze and work through mistakes instead of treating them as failures.
CREATE A STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT.
While you can be creative anywhere, it’s much easier to do so when you’re in a stimulating environment. Both you and your students can benefit from a classroom that’s well-decorated, fun, and engaging.
The best creative projects don’t come with instant rewards. Help your students to learn this and to teach them the value of discipline and hard work by delaying the rewards of their creative work and emphasizing long-term goals.
HELP STUDENTS IDENTIFY AND PLAN FOR OBSTACLES.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and students will undoubtedly encounter obstacles during their creative work. Help them to see these as opportunities not roadblocks by creating plans of action and workarounds together.
There’s nothing that creates a creative atmosphere like a little spontaneity. Occasionally, do something out of character. It will keep your students on their toes and keep you from falling into a rut.
INCORPORATE THE ARTS.
The most traditionally creative subjects are in the arts, but these can be incorporated into just about any lesson, whether math, science, or history. Find ways to bring music, drawing, creative writing, and other arts into a wider range of lessons in your classroom.
HELP STUDENTS MEET THEIR GOALS.
It’s not enough to just be creative. Help students to set and work towards meeting their own educational goals in the projects and assignments you do in your class.
If you simply give students the answers to all the tough questions, they won’t be motivated to come up with solutions on their own. Encourage them to work by themselves and only ask for help if they get really stuck.
While working on their own can be great, students can also gain a lot creatively from working together. Help them learn to work in productive, supportive groups.
Technology is an amazing tool for boosting creativity. It can be used to find ideas, brainstorm, and even create final products. The possibilities are endless, so don’t count it out when working on creativity.
Creating hypothetical situations is one way to get creative. When you consider what could happen, potential solutions, and likely reactions, you can open up whole new avenues of thinking.
GET OUT OF THE CLASSROOM.
The best lessons sometimes take place outside of the classroom. Interesting field trips or even just a walk outside of the school can help students to learn things in a new and exciting way.
USE PUZZLES AND GAMES.
When students are having fun, they often forget they’re learning. Puzzles and games can challenge them to think creatively but also provide entertainment that will make them more motivated to keep learning and working.
There’s a lot to learn about creativity and one great place to start is in books on the subject. There are a number of great reads out there, so pick one up and start learning.
EMBRACE THE INTERESTS OF STUDENTS.
When you take an interest in your students, they’re more likely to stay interested in school. Help them learn about and explore their own interests and transform these into valuable learning and creativity experiences.
There is a wide range of methods educators can use to help students (or themselves) to feel more creative. Learn about them as much as possible. You might just find something that works.
WATCH GREAT VIDEOS.
There are numerous videos out there that can inspire you to be more artistic, creative, and daring with your lessons and your teaching. If you haven’t, check out TED for some cutting-edge educational videos.