Ken Robinson famously suggested that creativity is the heart of all successful learning experiences. Creative teaching is providing learners with rich and varied contexts for developing their subject knowledge and encouraging critical thinking.
In physical schooling, we have a classroom environment that promotes creativity. Students have opportunities to converse and stimulate innovative thinking. As we moved to a virtual classroom, I faced the big challenge of transforming my virtual class into an environment that can stimulate innovative thinking. And, I found three ideas suggested by Robert.J.Sternberg to nurture creativity in the classroom and promote it as a habit to be highly useful:-
Opportunity to engage in creativity – Students need to have varied activities to engage in creativity through interactive and engaging lesson plans. So, I make sure that I plan a few hands-on activities for creative exploration; performance activities like role play and character study to develop a deeper understanding of the concept. Using tools like ‘Do Now, Think-Pair-Share, Put on your Thinking Caps’ also allows students to follow along and participate in our lessons creatively.
Encouragement to participate in the opportunity- Allowing students 5 minutes before a session for an early chat with me and with classmates has proved to be a great way to build informal connections in my class. Open discussions on any topic help students think critically. Open-ended questions help students think out of the box and come up with innovative solutions.
Allowing students to make even seemingly small choices can be motivating like letting a student choose which song to play before the lesson starts.
Reward when they respond- Recognising all types of achievements not only academic but non-academic has played a vital role in tuning in. Rewarding gives students both a sense of pride and an incentive to continue doing great work.
I feel online learning and teaching might seem complicated, but they are much simpler when we use the right tools and teaching strategies. By focusing on the needs of our students and preparing our materials well in advance, we can ensure that our virtual classroom remains just as creative and as rewarding as it was before COVID-19.