Innovation and creativity have always been vital in education, but with the advent of social media, electronic devices, and other digital distractions, it is surely more important than ever to be able to capture the imagination and interest of schoolchildren. So what can leaders do to promote a creative approach in the classroom, and how can they implement the strategies needed for an engaging atmosphere?
In this article, we examine the best ways to foster a spirit of creativity and innovation in the classroom and how to harness the natural enthusiasm of K-12 teachers. In addition, we also look at educational pathways for leadership, the importance of experience, and the value of lifelong learning.
An atmosphere of learning
In the digital age, inspiring and motivating students has never been more challenging. And though, of course, education is an obligation: all K12 students are required to attend, there is no question that exciting, engaging content and presentations from teachers can help them not only improve their knowledge but can also make the classroom a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience.
The type of innovation and creativity required will vary, of course, depending on not only the age group concerned, but also their level of ability, learning styles, and attitude toward schoolwork. At the same time, there are some general principles that, if applied, can always help to develop the right mindset and ensure positive progress.
Trust the system
The first and most important step for any leader is to establish a strong basis of trust. This trust and belief must also extend in all directions: toward the leader’s plan, from peer to peer, and within the group as a whole. This is why it is essential to install the right educational framework, where openness and collaboration are non-negotiable.
After all, innovation and creativity can only thrive if people feel like they have the confidence of the people around them, which in turns gives them the freedom to try new things. To build this kind of positive, collaborative environment, it is important for leaders to promote both a shared vision of the aims of the educational establishment and also to encourage everyone to speak their minds and express themselves .
In addition to this, it is also important to establish both formal and informal platforms for sharing ideas – every creative idea benefits from additional input, and sharing also helps encourage the best ideas to grow quickly. Opportunities for sharing can include anything from a weekly or monthly meeting to a WhatsApp group, Dropbox account, or email exchange for the express purpose of discussing what has worked well (or poorly) in the classroom.
In addition, team-building sessions, coffee breaks, or staff nights out can also be a fertile source of ideas and discussion, while regular demo lessons – where new or exciting ideas can be trialed or displayed – are another great way to promote collaboration and innovation.
Improving at every step
In terms of wider strategies, one popular approach is to install a distributed leadership strategy, where staff are encouraged to share leadership responsibilities and accountability: the key is to ensure that there is a concerted effort to involve team members at every level of the organization. In general, it is also important to encourage a culture of strong personal development, reflection, and continuous improvement. Teachers should feel that they always have something new to learn or contribute, no matter what their age or level of experience.
Finally, it is also crucial to encourage a strong openness to new technology without fostering a dependence on it. After all, there is no question that the possibilities offered by digital developments are significant and, in many cases, can help to create a more comprehensive and engaging learning experience. However, it is also important to maintain faith in interpersonal communication and simple, hard work.
The right preparation
In terms of preparation for this kind of approach, many teachers look to complete a specific higher education course that can help them develop a higher range of expertise in K-12 leadership. With an Online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in K-12 Leadership from Rockhurst University, for example, students can acquire a deeper understanding of educational systems and frameworks. They can also study how to implement best practices in the classroom itself and also in terms of curriculum design, program assessment, and outcomes measures.To find out whether Rockhurst’s K-12 Leadership online program is for you, click here.
Of course, even upon graduation, it is essential for leaders in education to keep on learning and developing. Naturally, experience is a vital part of leadership, though it is always vital to recall that experience is not just about seeing, but also understanding, applying, and communicating the lessons learned. Also of particular significance is a willingness to keep on learning and acquiring new knowledge, especially given the rapidly-evolving education landscape. Through a commitment to lifelong learning, K-12 leaders can not only ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest developments in education but can also set a strong example to their team.
The right path forward
It is clear that innovation and creativity are a must in the classroom. The good news is that not only the children but even the teachers are often a source of creative thinking; in most cases, all leaders have to do is to create the right conditions and openness, and innovation and creativity will thrive. Naturally this must all be underpinned by the other vital factors that help to create an effective and enjoyable learning experience for children: warmth, discipline, no little skill, and a passion for the subject at hand.
To truly thrive and succeed in fostering an innovative and creative environment, education leaders must be highly prepared, backed by a strong learning and organizational framework, and also have the requisite communication skills, empathy, and energy to implement their ideas. If all this can be achieved, however, there is no question that they are sure to prosper.