This year my Tankyuu (personal teacher inquiry) goal research question was:
How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?
It’s a big question.
And maybe a little too unfocused.
I definitely feel like I have made some forward strides with fostering creativity at Canadian Academy, but because my question was so broad, I think I was a little all over the place, rather than focusing on one area of our community.
My Action Plan was to:
- Increase creativity in my classroom
- Improve Creativity for the ICT PD
- Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community
- Facilitate a Hack-a-thon
- Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Profesionnal evelopment Forum
- MakerSpace in the Library
I will reflect on all of these areas below:
1 . Increase creativity in my classroom
Did I increase creativity in my classroom? This is hard to measure. If I compare my projects this year compared to last year, I would say overall they are more creative, but I didn’t create a rubric to quantify this. The kids are different then the classes last year, even though most of my units are the same. I will say that the number one thing that helped improve creativity in student projects was really simple. When I met with kids and conferenced with them and gave them formative feedback, especially in criterion B when they are deciding and justifying their designs, I asked them,
“How is this creative?”
That sparked interesting discussions and often led students to revise their ideas or go a little deeper with their thinking and create more interesting, creative, original designs.
2. Improve Creativity for the ICT PD
I proposed this to the tech department and our director of learning. In February, we started to run Tech PD sessions on Mondays after school in the library alongside of the Tech Talks – Tech Help for our Community.
There were some great sessions:
Graphic Designing for Teacher led by our HS Art teacher, Laura Dortmans
Digital Attribution was co-led by Team Lemley, as we discussed the difference in digital attribution and expectations we have as teachers which also sparked more questions to bring to the whole secondary faculty
Google Classroom was led by Kieran Burgess our Theater teacher.
There were more sessions. I think it was great to see teachers teaching teachers.
However, I feel like these sessions were not well attended. Many of the same teachers/staff attended while a lot of these sessions would have been appropriate for the whole faculty.
3. Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community
Liz Durkin and I organized creativity workshops for students on December 11th and February 10th. Both sessions were really successful. Each day, there were over ten sessions that middle school and high school students could sign up for a session they were interested in.
Teachers created time and space and offered interesting creative topics through a wide range of disciplines. In my readings this year, one of the most important factors in fostering creativity is time and space to create. I also feel after my own experiences in the Design classroom and also supported by The Secret to Creativity Ted Talk by Mike Dillon, that by offering specific tasks that someone can be creative with the outcome or solution is much better than a completely open-ended project.
4. Facilitate a Hack-a-thon
After attending John Burns’ Hack Your School session at Learning 2.0 in the Fall and hearing about all the great things they do at SIS (#sisrocks). Laura and I were inspired to bring this to our school. We made a little proposal for Leadership. I created a video asking people what they would “hack” if given the opportunity, but it fell flat. It was a busy year for me with my two jobs, recruiting and after speaking to the Headmaster about making time for it… it didn’t happen. If I hadn’t had so many things going on, I would have pushed back more. So this action was a fail. But, one I would like to facilitate some place, some time, because I think it’s a great concept for grassroots change at a school that supports learning and gives anyone at school a voice and platform to be heard.
5. Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Professional Development Forum
Creative Connections was my pride and joy this year. Laura (Head of Arts) and I really wanted to merge our departments this year. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that well. But in one of our (many) discussions about art and design being together we started to talk about PD. We had both been to a TON of pedagogy based PD and IB training, but very little hands-on workshops in art and design. At Learning 2.0 this year, I went to an Build-Your-Own Arduino Bot session and I got to sit and create with other teachers and it was fantastic. Laura and I successfully planned and pulled off Creative Connections. It was exactly what we wanted it to be. I plan to reflect on Creative Connections in another blog post, hopefully coming soon.
6. MakerSpace in the Library
The MakerSpace at CA Library didn’t come to fruition. I had two really good conversations with the librarians about this. MakerSpaces in libraries are all over the place. There are many resources on what people do and why they are so awesome. The first conversation I was super gung-ho about getting things in the library. I’m all for piloting and starting off small. We discussed changing the themes each month for materials.
Then I read more and thought about it more and considered the logistics. I can barely keep up with the materials in my own two classroom/labs and I don’t want to be making a mess in someone else’s space.
Without direction, will the kids create good quality things?
Our library doesn’t have spaces that one can get really messy and create or have a sound proof recording studio, which I think would be great, so I decided to abandon this idea for this year.
Again, something I’d like to look into again somewhere, someday, but this just wasn’t the year.
So, I now go back to my original inquiry question for my goal for the year: How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?
I think I thought of some pretty good ideas to bring more creativity to the classroom, professional development and to activities at CA this year. Again, I was a little all over the place with many things going at once. I’d like to do a few things well rather than do a lot of things just okay. In the future, I would like to work with a team of teachers/staff (and/or the Arts & Design Department) to develop a better plan to work on this at a school. There is a lot of good creativity at CA in pockets, but it is something that can continue to improve.
I know for my own personal creativity, I just need more time. I hope in all the actions I worked on this year that I provided a time and place for people to learn, play, solve problems and collaborate. As a design teacher, I need to find more time in my own life to be more creative, to be a better example for my own students and children.
So next year, I’ll be off to a new school with new goals. I’m not sure how annual goals will be developed at my new school, but I do hope that I can help develop my own goals out of my own interests and passions and I continue to foster my own creativity.