The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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It’s Not Going to be Easy, It’s Going to be Worth It.

Truth-for-Teachers-LogoThese are the final words that Angela Watson, of the Truth for Teachers podcast, leaves her listeners with each week. A former teacher and now educational consultant, Watson has become widely known for her management ideas for teachers, and especially for her (totally amazing sounding) 40 Hour Work Week Club. Her podcast is fantastic, and that’s why I thought I would share it with you today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inspirational podcast as much as the next person, but I do find that many of them are just that – inspirational, and not that practical. Sometimes when you’re looking for advice, or need a kick up the backside to even get in the car to go to work on a Monday morning, you need concrete suggestions on how to make the work week a little easier. Truth for Teachers is just that.

I’ve had episodes that have given me 9 Classroom Organisational Tips for the New Year, and even 5 Ways to Turn a Worksheet into a Collaborative Critical Thinking Activity. If these titles don’t get your teacher-nerd juices flowing, then I’m sorry to say, nothing will! It just happens to be incredibly handy that she posts a new episode each Monday morning, at peak “New week new me” time.

I encourage you all to go and have a listen, and maybe even a trawl through the archives to see if there’s anything that can help your particular situation.

We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it’s podcasts like Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers that remind us that it’s absolutely worth it.

 

 

*This is an independent post and in no way affiliated with Truth for Teachers. I just love the darn podcast

 

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On Becoming A Teacher

on becoming a teacher

This is my last week of practicum. There has been a small, almost imperceptible change over the last two weeks where I’ve become less and less of a student teacher, and increasingly more of a….teacher teacher. I will become a qualified teacher at approximately 3:31 WST on Friday 28 November 2014. Woah.

In my final week on prac I’ve noticed how much my rapport with the girls has changed from my early, hesitant days. Somehow by acting as if I knew what I was doing, I managed to get them to believe that I did. Never, until now, did it cross my mind that, hey, I might just actually know what I’m doing. I’ll take all the fleeting moments of feeling competent that I can get right now, as I am well aware of the fresh challenges that my first year of teaching will bring.

2014 has been a year of huge change in my life; I’ve been living on the other side of the world to my partner, I’ve been dealing with obtaining EU citizenship and on top of that have studied full time and prepared to totally change career. I haven’t had much spare brain power to consider how I will feel when I achieve my goals, especially of making that transition from student teacher to a qualified professional. Now that I have space to do that, I’m filled with the cautious pride of a job well done. There is a time and a place for modesty, and there is an equal but oft-neglected space to celebrate our own achievements, and hey even our own survival through difficult times. I actually made it through, and I only cried once!

I have tried to bring a fresh perspective and a creative outlook to my work this year, and it was in this mindset that I set out to create this here humble blog. I looked for the posts I wanted to read as a student, and when I couldn’t find them (although I am sure that they’re out there), I decided to write them myself. The Creative Teacher Project was never intended to be a space that was primarily about educational strategies, it was always my intention to write about my experience. I’ve tried to write posts I think are relevant to others, but with my own personality in each word, and I like to think that’s come across. I’ve met some lovely people through the blog and through my teaching Twitter account – follow me @createteachproj if you would like to connect there – and that has reaffirmed my belief that writing about my experience is worthwhile.

I’ve struggled to reconcile the idea of creative teaching I had at the beginning of the year with the workload of this year, and I’ve come out the other side of teacher training with a whole new perspective on the ways in which creativity intersects with education. I’m less focussed on my own creative practice now, which may change, but instead I’m even more interested in igniting the creativity and joy of learning in my students. This is a mammoth task, and however noble my intention it is not always to be achieved in a whole career, let alone a 7 week placement in a school!

This placement has given me exactly what I needed – an opportunity to take a long hard look at myself and teaching as a career, and a chance to pull myself together and really feel ready to take on teaching in 2015. I’m so looking forward to it – I hope you’ll stick around next year as I blog about my first year on the job!

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog, commented or given me advice during my studies. I’m eternally grateful for the help I’ve received. If you’ve thought about reaching out – please do. The more creative teachers out there the better!
Sam


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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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What You Wish Someone Had Told You

Hey all, I’ve been rethinking about this blog and what I wanted it to be over the last week or two. In part it’s definitely a recording of my time as a student teacher and exceedingly-soon-to-be-qualified-teacher, but I also wanted it to be a resource for other students out there.When I signed up to learn how to teach, I really struggled to find out tips and hints about what to expect, and the first few months were pretty daunting for me. There are a lot of great resources out there, but they can be tricky to find. I found especially so for my content area of drama.

As I’m coming to the business end of my Graduate Diploma, I thought it might be handy to gather some simple interviews with people I have found incredibly helpful during the year, and ask them to share some of their wisdom. I’m thinking along the lines of what they wished someone had told them when they were graduating.

Is this something you’d be interested in reading? Is this something you’d be interested in sharing? Do you have any tips for me? They don’t have to be drama based, although these are particularly welcome. Hit me up in the comments with your thoughts!

Thanks

Sam