Note - Today is Day 6 of Kwanzaa & I'm examining how each principle correlates with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Creativity (KUUMBA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read & feel free to comment.
The education profession is one that is always changing and evolving…and some may argue, to a fault. When I entered the ranks of teaching in 1988, it was something entirely different by the time I reentered in 1992. By the time I became a school administrator in 1998, it had evolved even more so. Every 4 – 5 years after that, it evolved again and again. As I look back on education from my beginning to now, it has changed so drastically that what I was doing in my earlier years, I would consider obsolete today. With these constant changes in education, I had to change and evolve along with it if I was going to remain relevant and effective. How are you evolving? How are you adapting to change? How are you keeping up with the pace of change? Or have you remained set in your old ways?
There are so many perspectives as to why education changes so often and rapidly, and these perspectives are typically accompanied by discussions of whether or not the change is in the best interest of children and whether or not educators are a part of the decision-making process to bring about change. At the “end of the day” however, we can all conclude that change is inevitable.
Looking at change through a different lens, society changes at rapid rates too. Technology changes, the media changes, trends change, clothing changes, circumstances change, needs change, interests change, goals and aspirations change, government changes, life changes, people change, our children change, the world changes, EVERYTHING CHANGES! All of the aforementioned have direct implications with “classroom teacher success.” So the question becomes, have YOU changed? Again…have YOU changed? As great as you were in the classroom 5 to 10 years ago, you can’t continue your trajectory of greatness if you haven’t adapted to change. Because the world is constantly changing, your students are changing with it. How have you adapted to change?
I have old video footage of me as a young assistant principal and a principal. Every time I watch those old clips, I almost feel embarrassed to watch them because there is so little relevance in the message to contemporary times…but at THAT time, what I was articulating along with my actions was relevant. Over the years, I had to change, evolve, adapt and grow with the times.
My topic for this blog post is: CREATIVITY: You Can’t Meet New Challenges with Old, Outdated, Obsolete Strategies. I am saying here that toward adapting to change in the classroom, you must be able to evoke creativity, innovation and unconventional strategies to solve new problems. You must constantly reinvent yourself over time. As great as you were last year (or even last month), those strategies you employed may no longer work this year, as society has changed even in a year (or a month).
The number of children who enter schools who are living in poverty increases by the year. The challenges associated with poverty are real and they require the best version of yourself daily. Here, I’m not even talking about how you infuse professional development into your repertoire of strategies. No, I am talking about how you reach down within yourself to find new ways to solve new problems with students who have the greatest need. I am asserting here that all of us have untapped talent and potential lying dormant within that we’re not even aware of. In fact, we live our entire lives having only tapped into a small fraction of the greatness that lies within us. We must therefore on a very conscious and deliberate level seek to tap into ourselves….evoke creativity toward finding novel ways to be great in our classrooms. Our students require it from us daily – particularly those students who are most at-risk.
For the basketball fans out there, think about a 7-game playoff series. A given team had a strong regular season, they are the number one seed in their bracket and playing the lowest seed. They practiced for Game 1. They prepared for Game 1. They studied game film for Game 1. They subsequently go out onto the basketball court for Game 1 and get blown out of the arena. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, I think you can agree with me that the strategy that was executed for Game 1 can now be rendered old, outdated and obsolete! The coach (teacher) has to now look within for a whole new game plan based upon how the opponent performed in Game 1 toward being victorious in Game 2. It works the same way in the classroom…a continual renewal of ourselves…evoking creativity toward bringing the best version of ourselves to our classrooms daily.