6 Ways to Make Your Classroom Teaching More Creative
Learning needs to be intense, exciting and just a little bit dangerous, says John Dabell – so here are some ideas to give your teaching the edge… #JustLetMeTeach
- by John Dabell
To support our new #JustLetMeTeach campaign, we have free primary and secondary teacher packs to download with practical advice to help you reduce your workload, refresh your teaching, and reignite a love of learning for you and your students.
1 | Hand it over
Learning is an activity fired by the desire to know…so ask pupils what they want to discover.
One way to go off-piste with purpose is to create a Self-Organised Learning Environment (SOLE), encouraging students to work as a community, answering their own, vibrant ‘big questions’ with the help of the internet.
Popularised by Dr Sugata Mitra, the winner of the 2013 TED Prize, a SOLE uses students’ natural inquisitiveness, and focuses on providing an enabling environment where they can learn on their own.
To find out more about how to run a SOLE session, visit theschoolinthecloud.org.
2 | Be philosophical
Giving students the opportunity and freedom to learn through posing their own questions and chewing on them is vital. Philosophical activities nourish the capacity for curiosity, and promote higher-order thinking skills.
Encourage pupils to be intellectually playful. By promoting philosophy within your subject you can teach students how to identify meaningful questions, inspect and scrutinise beliefs, and work out their own ideas with care and rigour.
Excite their philosophical interest using a carefully chosen thought experiment, moral dilemma, picture, text, story, film clip or a mind-twisting ‘what if’ scenario.
3 | Take it outside
Did you know that even prison inmates get more fresh air than most children and their teachers in schools? That’s just out of order; learning outside the classroom is essential for everyone, because it presses different buttons.
It gives students an opportunity to experience wonder and awe, have waves or surprise wash over them, and test their own boundaries. Being outdoors is energising and naturally enhances achievement.
Moreover, it’s a social experience – young people pick up new skills from being in the open air together – and of course, it’s fun, too!
4 | Make connections
Do it the Finnish way and connect concepts by going multidisciplinary.
Phenomenon-based teaching (PBL) provides a cross-curricular approach to learning, where real-life phenomena and broader topics – such as the European Union, for example – are discussed in a holistic manner.
An important part of the process is students playing a primary role in recognising the gaps in their knowledge that they want to fill.
They work alongside teachers to plan projects and take responsibility for their own learning and share new perspectives with their classmates.
PBL emphasises 21st-century skills, such as communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, sustainability, and international understanding.
See phenomenaleducation.info for more details.
5 | Build teams
Relationships can be strengthened through team-building activities. Cooperative games allow students to work together to make decisions based on creative thinking, communication and partnership.
Working on a problem together enables young people to become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They also learn to negotiate, to trust, develop leadership skills, make mistakes, deal with failure and be solutions-focused when overcoming challenges.
The internet is awash with icebreakers, energisers, games and lesson plans suitable for team building, so take a look for ideas and best-fit activities.
6 | Start a club
If you want to give students a really powerful creative voice then why not tear down the classroom walls and go global? TED-Ed Clubs offer a platform that supports students in discussing, pursuing and presenting their ideas in the form of short, TED-style talks.
Free, online resources encourage enquiry, idea creation, exploration and sharing – and by participating, students can develop presentation literacy so that their ideas can be more easily seen, understood, shared and acted upon.
Learn more at ed.ted.com/clubs.
…and one for luck
Remember, you are part of a huge, international community of teaching professionals – and, thanks to social media, reaching out to your peers for inspiration has never been easier. Do it!
We’re sharing this article as part of our #JustLetMeTeach campaign, in which we’re inviting teachers to share the moments when they’ve been able to pass on what excites them about their subject, and what has excited their pupils too – whether or not it helps children pass a test.