The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom

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Mind Blown: Assessments and Embarrassment

I’m having a bit of a moment.  A revelatory one.

You see, I’m writing a paper on formative assessment, its impact on students and the implications for teachers. I’m loving it – this type of development focussed assessing is right up my alley and I cannot wait to get stuck in with my own (future) class. It’s all about high quality feedback, specifically addressing misconceptions but also giving more abstract indications to students about the direction they need to go in to really succeed. Formative assessment happens throughout a course of study, not just a test right at the end, you know, when it’s kind of too late to correct students if their wrong.

But this is where a lightbulb went DING DING DING in my brain. Testing and assessing is not a trick we play on students. We’re not supposed to be tripping them up, trying to ask questions that they don’t know the answer to to prove their not smart enough. Tests aren’t supposed to be too difficult for students. We’re supposed to assess students to find out how much they’ve learned. If they’re failing tests it’s because their not learning. That’s our responsibility!

There’s also no inherent value judgement in assessments. Woah Nelly, did I just say that? You don’t have to be embarrassed if you don’t know something! If only I had realised this in school – I could have asked so many more questions! I wish I had known this at Uni the first time around! Think about how much we could learn if we weren’t afraid of looking stupid by asking questions.

As teachers, we want our students to succeed. We want them to learn and build their own knowledge. Doing well in an essay is not the goal here (mind blown AGAIN). The essay is just the vehicle through which we can see what our students have learned. We need to structure our assessments so that our students can do well but more importantly, we need to use the information from our students assessments to really think about how and what we’re teaching them.

I think I need a little lie down now. My poor brain.

Hit me up in the comments if you’ve ever had a moment like this!


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What Happened to Creativity?

On Monday evening, far later than I should have been, I was scrolling through some teaching related tweets. I tweeted about a new post of mine, checked out the #dramaed hashtag, and contemplated letting another Drama teacher know how much I love her blog (I totally chickened out on that one). I felt a bit smug for about 30 seconds, congratulating myself on how well I am doing this whole blogging thing.

Then I switched tabs and caught a view of my latest post. Right up the top, in turquoise letters on my favourite yellow chevron header, was the wake up call I didn’t know was heading my way. The Creative Teacher Project. My blog, about bringing creativity to the classroom. That isn’t what this blog has been recently, instead it’s something more along the lines of Confessions of a Student Teacher.

Although when I created this blog I wanted it to be a place for student teachers to come and find information they weren’t getting at university, I really wanted it to be a place where I discussed and dissected the creative practice of teaching. I missed being creative daily in my last role, and teaching was the path I chose to take instead. But I’ve realised I’m not sharing that creative journey here. 

So I’m going to have a little think about how I can work creativity in here a little more. I mean, it’s my name! I simply have to! But before I do that, I’m going to let myself come to grips with this whole teaching concept first, and I hope you bear with me. Can I become a better, more creative teacher at the same time as I actually become a teacher to begin with? I don’t know.

Shall we find out together?

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Stretching Myself: Teaching Dance

BCC Dance Concert

Image Source – a dance concert at my old school!

Heading into a school to teach Drama this year has really stretched me. It’s been a great kind of stretch – the professional equivalent of restarting a yoga habit long since abandoned. My grasp of the content of a modern drama course is a little looser than I would like, but immersion is doing wonderful things – I find myself reading drama textbooks in bed, and looking forward to a rare free hour to read Beckett plays. I’m enjoying the ache of reusing old muscles.

A long, long time ago, however, in a galaxy that seems very far away, I used to be quite the little dancer. I managed to keep dancing even after puberty happened, and then when adolescence happened I found a dance teacher to whom I became absolutely devoted. The high pony-tailed wonder woman that was Mrs Stewart, the holistic dance teacher at my college. I adored her, and would have done anything for Mrs Stewart, but sadly, they didn’t offer TEE dance at my school, and so by year 11 and 12, my dancing was starting to slowly tail off.

It was a bit of a shock to find that even after a ten year absence, the only minor I was able to select for my Dip Ed was dance! To say that I was slightly….anxious about it was a bit of an understatement. The last time I attended regular dance classes was when Shakira was big in the charts. For real! I’ve struggled with the reality of it, but I guess that’s just it – the reality is that I will be a dance teacher. It’s a brain stretch that doesn’t feel quite so nice.

I am tremendously out of my comfort zone here. I am having to work hard to get my head around the content, and (something even more difficult) get my confidence up to a point where I’m not scared of a 13 year old saying “In my dance class we don’t do it like that…..”. I’ve decided to head back to dance classes myself – partly so that I can be the best darn dance teacher I can be (despite my initial reluctance), but maybe also a tiny to see whether dance is still a part of me. I have a feeling it might be, no matter how much of a stretch it is!