School: Glencoe Primary School
Year Group: 2
Teacher: Benita Swart
Creative Practitioner: Jodie Davidson
Creative Practice: Visual Art
Putting the often disjointed, creative thinking of an artist with the logical, methodical thinking required of a teacher into a classroom of children, isn’t always going to be easy. It can, however, be exciting when these two disparate individuals are able to collaborate with acknowledgment that by not completely understanding each other’s thought process, they have a possibility of making magic.
Relationship building is such a key part of the Creative Schools process. Engaging with the Principal to build an understanding of the school culture will help navigate the unknown and also cultivate support. Exploring passions and finding common ground with the teacher, setting expectations and getting to know one another at the start of the project will build a successful partnership. What skills do each of you bring? Teachers understand their students, their needs and the curriculum requirements. Creatives are familiar with how to reach outcomes in a non-linear manner, understanding that it is through the process that often the most important discoveries are made, sometimes leading you on a much more interesting journey than you would have ever imagined. Regardless of your different views, backgrounds, experiences or expertise, there is something to be learned from one another. What do you have in common? What are your goals? How do you see yourselves working together?
A class of year 2 students alongside a teacher of 30 years’ experience resulted in a realisation that stretching an activity across two sessions allowed time for the students to become inquisitive and questions to grow. It also meant less planning. Thinking of it like a puzzle with an unknown answer meant that when revealed, it would lead into something new. Discovering that teachers don’t have a lot of spare time to spend planning and reflecting with the Creative in their classroom means fresh thinking and problem-solving, something that an artist must do continuously within their practice; imagination, critical judgement and reflection. The same can be said for coming up with solutions as to how to make time, when there isn’t any.
“Creative Schools provides schools with a challenge, if you dare to accept, to change old thinking and the opportunity to adapt perspectives to a more suitable way of looking at learning. It is especially important to match educators with creatives in a way, that magic can happen. The strength of the program is in understanding the role that adults play in the life of already highly creative and inquisitive human beings. We are not here to teach them any of these Creative Habits: We are here to give them time to remember these and use them freely without time restrictions and interferences of a limited and narrow curriculum. I have learned to step into the role of facilitator, setting an environment that provokes thinking and keeping space for children to navigate their own learning.” - Teacher
Bringing students along on the journey, including planning and reflecting, means that it's not driven solely by the adults. It results in them developing a sense of ownership and validation in how they are learning. Suggestions of how the curriculum can be covered by a big open project that quickly crosses so many key areas, leaves time to play with possibilities and for students to make connections between subjects. Adopting a shoulder-to-shoulder approach, supporting one another, demonstrates collaboration to students. It is not about who is right or wrong or which method is better, it is acknowledging each other’s creativity and expertise and using the Creative as a resource allowing the teacher to be creatively brave.
There are moments of friction, surprise, joy and frustration as we step into someone else’s domain. Within each of these instances comes the opportunity to better develop ideas and methods that inspire a young person’s curiosity enough to engage their imagination and persistence in wanting to know more.
“I couldn't get the screw into the sponge at the start, but I tried the twisting tool, then tried with my fingers then tried the tool again and it got easier.” - Student
Screwdrivers, hand saws and drills, evolved into student collaboration, tolerating the uncertainty of unfamiliar items and demonstrating discipline in developing techniques of how the tools could be used. Design and technology, physical sciences, enquiry skills, communicating and understanding, history, general capabilities and cross curricular priorities are able to be tackled simultaneously. It is through constant Creative/Teacher reflection that the space between ideas, activities and the curriculum can be found.
“Autonomy has become a buzzword, as children need to be empowered to fully become engaged. Connection is another buzzword as we need to develop ‘relational currency’ in children and step away from ‘transactional currency’. Authenticity in our behaviours and interactions is crucial. All these qualities had the opportunity to rise to the surface during our unforgettable sessions and it was kept there with the effervescent sound of laughter and joy as everybody discovered and learned in partnership.” - Teacher
Between relationship building, discovery, student engagement and reflection, is space. Sometimes it is the gap between differences and realisation that can be the most interesting and rewarding. Within ‘space’ there is room for discovery, however, the space is often the most uncomfortable place to sit. ‘Space’ is where we face fear, a risk of failure, questions of competency … fear of the unknown. Like a plant, ‘space’ is where we have the most opportunity to grow.
“True magic happens when you dance on the edge of your comfort zone and boy, did we dance!!! I have so much gratitude to everybody at Creative Schools for giving me the opportunity to be part of this program and a sincere thank you to my two Creatives, who I had the privilege to learn with.” - Teacher