How can teachers empower children to be more creative and engaged in class, even when they don’t want to?

In this Fueling Creativity in Education episode, Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Dr. Matthew Worwood welcome Andrea Mango, an elementary STEAM teacher based in Williamsville, New York. This episode focuses on bridging the gap between theories and studies of creativity and the practical implications for them in an elementary classroom.

Tune in to learn how Andrea inspires creativity in her STEAM classroom, how she has overcome barriers to bringing choice for students into the classroom, and how STEAM classrooms differ from regular classrooms. She offers insight into how to build a safe, trusting environment for creativity to thrive in your classroom and how to engage students that don’t like the topic or project or are having a bad day and don’t want to be engaged.

“Where in your curriculum can you give up a little bit of control, a little bit of power?” – Andrea Mango

Andrea tells us why she brought flexible seating options into her classroom, like rocking chairs and bean bags, and how she deals with the vulnerability and stigmas of being a creative educator. Then, Andrea describes how she brings her problem-solving skills into her classroom and involves students in the problem-solving process.

Andrea’s Tips for Teachers and Parents:

  1. When it comes to making changes, start small. Challenge yourself to get rid of 1-2 worksheets per week and turn the lesson into an activity, game, or something more hands-on.
  2. Give up a little power so your students can have some. Does it really make a difference if they use markers, sit at their desk, or work with their best friend?
  3. Use your #1 resource for creativity: your students. They are far more creative than sometimes we can be, and they are eager to have a voice in the classroom. They are also of different ages, so they have different perspectives.

About Andrea Mango:

Follow Andrea on Twitter

Mrs. Andrea Mango has taught for the past 18 years, first as a kindergarten through 2nd-grade educator and now as a STEAM educator for K-4 at Dodge Elementary in Williamsville, New York. Before teaching, Andrea worked at Erie One BOCES’ Positive Youth Development Center, where she trained teachers on empowering students in the classroom and prepared middle and high school students to become positive leaders among their peers. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and a master’s degree in Elementary Education-Birth-6th.

Recommended Resources:

Listen to the episode with Dr. Kulvarn Atwal


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