Creativity is being lost in schools.  ~  Creative teachers are being held back.  ~  Students’ creativity is not being fostered like it should be.

I know.  Those are bold statements.  But it is my opinion and it’s made from the things I read and the observations I make in education each and every day.

I also know this:

Creative teachers are still teaching.  ~  Educators at all levels yearn to inspire their students.  ~  Educators want to make a difference in their students’ lives.

We feel the pressures of time, data, testing and administration, but we also feel the obligation to foster a learning environment that develops learners who can think for themselves.  And if there is any educator that can tell me otherwise, I wonder if they should be in education.

Woah, another bold statement.  I think I’m on a roll.

Here’s one more:

There are millions of people (from ALL walks of life) who know that creative thinkers and creative doers are what we need to have a successful future in our country and in our world.  I see them in the business world, in science and in technology as much as in education.  They are telling us this in tweets, books, articles and videos.

Listen, as I write these posts every week I speak to myself as a teacher as much as I may seem to preach to my readers.  We ALL need to support one another if we are to make change in our classrooms, with our students, in our schools, districts, communities and, well, across the nation!

In the past weeks, while working with a group of teachers in my own district through our Arts Integration PLC (PLaiC) and in teaching a Music Integration course this month, along with other work and communications I have had, I’ve seen how teachers’ creative spirits can be squashed by their own environments and, in some cases, even their colleagues.

So, enough of that!  Let’s bring the lights back up and see what we can do about it.  As I said, it’s about US: like-minded teachers supporting one another.

This month, The Inspired Classroom is dedicating all the posts to CREATIVITY in LEARNING!  We want to spur discussions and get you thinking about what creativity means to you as a person and a teacher and how you can ignite creativity in your offices, classrooms and schools.

First we start with YOU!  You need to get your creative on first, before you can bring that to your students.  We’ve said it many times and in many different ways in the past, you must put your oxygen mask on first!

7 Ways to Get It On!

1. Get your creative juices going.  Our motto here is to Get Inspired, so you can Be Inspiring!  So, before your spread the good word of creativity, you must also practice it yourself.

  • Get that old sketch book off the shelf and put it somewhere you can see it every morning, or go out and buy a new smaller one that can travel with you throughout the days.  Even more fun, create one using some paper you have at home or in your classroom.  Make the perfect size, design your own cover and make it your own!
  • Create a playlist of songs that gets you moving and enjoying life, or recreate a mix tape playlist you had from your younger years that brings back a more creative time in your life.
  • Open up a space where you can move around and dance and then find a time when you can do so.  Get up early and make it your exercise time before your roommates or family wake up, do it in the afternoon with your children after they come home from school, or schedule a time in the evening to do so with your spouse or friends or alone.  You could even plan a night out to a dance club!
  • Clear a space where you can start a project and work on it from time to time.  Make it a place you will see each day so that you don’t forget about it.  Be sure that your area is attractive to you so that you will want to create and don’t end up feeling like the space you have has just become another mess to clean up.
  • Find a performance to attend.  There may be a play or concert you have wanted to go to or, just in general, you haven’t been able to go to one in a while.  Now’s the time.  And even if the performance doesn’t happen this month, the anticipation and excitement will be there.

2. Attend professional development that is built for creative teachers.  There may be some opportunities in your area where teachers can take a workshop in an art form or in arts integration.  The VIRTUAL Teacher Art Retreat is something teachers LOVE!  This is an amazing collection of workshops and experiences for teachers to Get Inspired and Be Creative.  In this PD, teachers actually DO stuff: make visual art, listen to and create music, tells stories, move and dance, write poetry and of course relate it all to what we do with our students day in and day out.

3. Check out the Creativity Challenges over at FiguringOutHowthePiecesFit where Melissa Edwards has posed some thought provoking prompts.  She surely has a knack for getting the creative juices flowing!

4.  If you live or work in NH, you may be interested in the next New Hampshire Arts Learning Network (NHALN) Meet-Up and Potluck.  I am excited to be hosting this regional meet-up in Hampton, NH on February 7, 2013 from 6-8 pm.  Our focus discussion will be how we can promote creativity in learning.  If you would like more information, please contact us or go to THIS INVITATION PAGE to find out more or to add your thoughts.  I will also post an update later this month on our discussions.

5.  Check out my new book Studio Days.  This book is designed for creative teachers who want to share the creative process with their students while aligning their content standards with arts standards.

6.  Join forces with other creative teachers.  Maybe there’s a teacher in your school that you know or you can simply tell shares the same values as you when it comes to creativity in learning.  Reach out to that person and ask them to share some of the things they do.  It may seem silly, but finding another person or a group who shares your ideals in education can really make the difference between stifling and letting your own teacher-creativity flow.

If there truly isn’t someone in your school or district, consider joining and looking on Twitter.  There are countless teachers who know the value of creativity in learning there, including myself!  (@eliza_peterson)  And you can also join our Inspiring Teachers community on Facebook!  It’s full of amazing educators: caring, creative teachers, just like YOU!

7.  Share something creative and inspiring!  I bet you do some great things in your classrooms centered around creativity in learning.  You also probably have a great story or quote that keeps you going when times get tough.  I am sending out an invitation to our readers to submit something that will help to inspire other readers here at The Inspired Classroom.  Here’s how it will work:

  • Send in an inspiring story, lesson idea, image, video, picture of artwork, song, quote or anything you can think of (that can be posted online) that would help to inspire other educators.
  • Email what you have to [email protected] (or send it through our contact page).   Include your name, what you do, your website (if you have one) and your inspiring offering.
  • Please email or contact me by February 15th to see if your offering gets posted this month.  If we have many offerings, we will continue to share them through the month and beyond!  If you have any questions, please email me or comment here.

I hope you think about doing one or more of these ideas posted here.  And if you do (or plan to), be sure to come back here and comment on what you did.

Enjoy your week and get creative!