Creativity In The Classroom
When speaking to many teachers and parents I often hear that due to the high pressures of exams, creativity has been lost in the classroom. Teachers have less and less time to plan and be creative themselves with the introduction of outcome-based goals.
However, when teachers do have the time, and with the new or debatably reintroduced mastery styled curriculums, there is more scope to facilitate deeper learning in the classroom via active learning. Creative and interactive lessons have been researched in depth showing that it increases engagement, participation which in turn creates further learning growth and knowledge retention due to the unique aspect of the lesson. Stress is an ever more prevalent factor in the profession with high numbers of teachers signed off on long term sick. The active side of learning is linked to stress reduction both for the pupils and teacher having a overall positive impact on mindfulness and wellbeing.
Personally, when teaching active lessons, I find myself enjoying the lesson much more. Pupils who are normally disengaged with not only mathematics but school in general, suddenly light up and participate in the learning of maths offering their valued thoughts and theories. And those who do enjoy mathematics gain deeper insights into practical applications and the deeper learning offered. When I consider the time it takes to plan these lessons, certainly the thought I put into them is greater. However, I am doing less of the tedious tasks such as creating questions, finding resources etc. which reduces time in the long run. I feel inspired by the work and so to the pupils leaving us with smiles all round. An example of such a lesson was on the topic circle theorems where I introduced pi and circumference using a bike wheel paint and sticky notes. The wheel had paint dripped onto one point and the pupils had to predict where the paint would hit the desk after one and then more rotations by placing their initialled sticky notes in the correct place. Theory was then introduced with some questions to complete followed by a repeat of the wheel exercise with the newly acquired knowledge.
When interviewing pupils about this active lesson, they always identify it as the best lessons they have been taught in mathematics. Especially lower ability pupils, or those who lack confidence, stated how they felt they could express themselves better with their views being heard and tested out. The problem-solving aspects enhanced their debating skills and communication both with peers and in front of the class producing work.
By Jonathan Kingsley-Mills