When Hudson Park Primary’s esteemed leader, principal Andrew Britton, asked the Creative Schools Teachers and I to do a session for their professional learning day we were understandably a little nervous. We took on the challenge with enthusiasm, however, and we were not disappointed with the results!
We began by giving an introduction about creative teaching and creativity, and finished with Chris and Brad setting up an activity that would ask the teachers to stretch their own creativity to hopefully inspire a few ideas in their classrooms. I had been taking Mathilda Joubert’s masters unit on creative education, so I was lucky enough to be able to pick her brain about the best way to structure this information and put together a PowerPoint presentation to help me through the session. Following on from her motivational example, I decided to use some small activities that Mathilda had used with the creative practitioners to illustrate for the teachers what creativity looked like as well as the myths surrounding it. I also wanted to show them how they could implement something tangible right away in their own classroom, so creativity didn’t become another idea that was too hard to implement and easily forgettable.
I began with an activity that asked the teachers to get into groups of three and each write an everyday object on a post-it note. One person from the group was to hide the post-it note from the others and they were asked to use the two remaining objects to come up with an idea for an original product. When this was done they then used the hidden object to add an extra dimension to their original product. This activity illustrated the definition of creativity in a fun and relaxed way and primed the group for what was to come. I followed this activity with an interactive chat about the myths surrounding creativity and dispelled the idea that it was something extra we had to add to their already busy schedules.
Next came an activity that asked small groups to choose random objects from a box. Using things such as figurines, fake teeth and matchbox cars to create a story. After a short time I gave each group another object that they needed to incorporate into their tale before they presented the result to the group. This activity was a really great way to not only emphasise the importance of creativity being a transferrable cognitive skill, but it also gave a clear picture of how we use the Five Habits of Learning in the Creative Schools program. To finish I did a final activity we had used on our training day which asked the staff to make a stack of post-it notes (coloured of course for extra ideas!) with lessons they would typically have to give and another stack with the interests of the students, which they would randomly combine to come up with unique and engaging lesson plan ideas.
At the completion of this presentation Chris and Brad then asked the staff to split into teams so that the junior staff could find a creative way to represent the lifecycle of a caterpillar, while the seniors worked on a human lifecycle equivalent. They were able to use anything in the room to represent the cycles and there were some very creative responses! Overall we had great feedback from the teaching staff who felt that they would use some of the activities we had tried, especially the lesson planning, and others who commented on what a great time they’d had and how memorable it was. Chris and Brad also intend to hold another session next term for the Hudson Park team to give a more in-depth demonstration of what they have been doing in their classrooms during Creative Schools sessions with the hope of spreading the creative teaching bug to the rest of the staff.