Do you want to introduce creativity into your classroom in an authentic, significant, and sustainable way? In order for your students to be creative in the classroom, you have to model the way. Before you look at strategies and content you might teach, you have to start by developing a creative mindset and heart set within yourself.
Now, take a moment and think about the teachers in your life who you would describe as “being creative.” In this instance, go beyond the art teachers in your life, and think about those who were good problem solvers. As you think about these “creative” individuals there are probably a number of characteristics that they share in common. It is quite likely that they are curious, imaginative, willing to try new things, and surprising in their ability to look at things in new ways. They may share some other traits too – they might be playful and courageous. You have probably seen them taking micro risks in the classroom. And when they make mistakes, they look at it as an opportunity to grow. They might also often seem to be driven by a sense of purpose. These teachers embody what it means to be creative. By observing them and in particular by studying the traits they exhibit and share we have been able to start to define what comprises a creative mindset and heart set.
The Matryoshka nesting doll offers an apt analogy for the framework for being creative. At the heart, the innermost doll represents the core creative skills of being open, curious, and original. These are the essential creative skills. Without the ability to suspend judgment, actively seek novelty, and a genuine desire to explore one would not be able to truly harness the power of deliberate creative processes.
The second doll represents the heart set. The attitude with which a creative individual engages with the world around them. The three elements of the affective skill set are being mindful, playful, and optimistic. When we augment the core creativity skills with the power of awareness, humor, and hopefulness we develop our inner resilience which allows us to foster a sustainable effort for change.
The outermost doll represents transformational skills. These are the skills that create change. They transform ideas into outcomes. This skill set comprises of being deliberate, driven, and courageous. A productive approach to thinking and doing creates results. A connection to a meaningful purpose fuels the drive required to undertake and sustain the creative effort. Taking the first or even the next step as we embrace something new and creative requires a tolerance for uncertainty and risk. We have to embrace vulnerability and ambiguity courageously in order to be creative. The outermost layer of the being creative framework is where the rubber meets the road.
As you grow from being a creative individual to become a creative leader in your classroom, this framework for being creative becomes even more important. We know that it is more effective to show rather than tell, to model the behavior we want to see rather than demand it. When we start working on our goal of changing others by first embodying the change we want to see – we create the authentic, significant, and sustainable growth we are hoping for.