Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Importance of Creativity in Education

The #OklaEd chat topic for August 7 will be creativity, it’s importance to learning, how it relates to critical thinking, & how we can encourage creativity in the classrooms.  

Q1. What grade do you teach?
Do students come to  you prepared to think creatively?
Why do you think this is so? (8:05 PM)

Q2.How is student creativity
important to education? (8:12 PM)

Q3. Can creativity be learned/taught?
Explain. (8:18 PM)

Q4. How is creative thinking different
than critical thinking? (8:24 PM)

Q5. What role if any does creativity
play in critical thinking? (8:30 PM)

Q6. How can educators be intentional
about including creative thinking in the
classroom? (8:36 PM)

Q7. How can we implement Standards
with fidelity, while also encouraging creativity? (8:42 PM)

Q8. How can integrating different subjects
enhance the creative opportunities for students? (8:48 PM)

Q9. Are good grades enough, or will
our students need to be creative innovators
to be successful in the “real world”? (8:54 PM)

Food for thought....

(There are many great books, and articles on this topic.  If you have a favorite please share in the comments bellow!!)

The educators that I've met on Twitter are among the most innovative, and creative, educators that I've ever had the privilege of collaborating with and learning from. I can't wait to hear your thoughts and learn from you!!! #OklaEd

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reflective Teaching and a Growth Mindset

Reflective teaching is a process where teachers think over their teaching practices, analyzing how something was taught and how the practice might be improved or changed for better learning outcomes. (

A friend and teaching colleague recently shared a blog post entitled The Growth Mindset Initiative .  In her post she shares about her struggle to answer a Twitter Chat questions about growth mindset in the classroom. She knew she was doing great things in her class, but needed to make sense of where they fell in the scheme of creating a growth mindset. I enjoyed her article; her thoughts, examples, and plans for how she has and will create a growth mindset, but the thing that struck me the most was her honest reflection.

This idea of  honest reflection really got me thinking on how closely honest reflection and growth mindset are related. Most of us enjoy reflecting on our achievements and successes in the classroom  -- celebrating our accomplishments; but when it comes to reflecting on areas where we need to grow or admitting that our plans fell short, the task of reflection can be more difficult. True reflection is honest reflection, the kind of reflection that can makes us feel uncomfortable. When we're determined to grow we will face our fears head on and learn from past challenges. We welcome new and different ideas that cause us to reflect on our teaching and broaden our thoughts.  Honest reflection, the willingness to challenge ourselves and grow, are the very essence of a growth mindset.

As educators, it is important for us to be transparent in our reflection and growth.  When others see us openly sharing our journey, our questions, and our reflections, they themselves may be inspired to take the plunge into the "reflecting pool".  Great teachers, like my friend Amanda, are not only amazing teachers, but are an encouragement to other educators not only in word but in example.  Sometimes our greatest encouragement doesn't come from the person in the room who has all the answers, but from the person who is most willing to share his/her struggles and what they have learned from them. When we openly share, reflect, and grow we are creating a growth mindset among other educators....creating a safe place for educators to grow!! Why wouldn't we want for other educators what we so desperately desire for our students?

As a new school year approaches, I want to be open in my reflecting -- embracing challenges, and mistakes in the same way I encourage my students to do -- as steps in the process of learning!! Reflection and a growth mindset go hand in hand!!

For further reading:
What It Means To Be A Reflective Teacher

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finally Reflecting (Advocacy)

I'm sorry to say my blog is like a neglected journal.  I have good intention (I really do) but life gets busy and blogging gets pushed to the side. Summer has begun to settle, VBS, camp,4th of July  have passed...and I am anxious to reflect and record my thoughts on the 2015/16 school year.

The 2015/16 school year brought with it a new elementary school and new grade level.  I taught 3rd grade for 2 years at my previous school.  I loved the students and my coworkers, and was sad to leave;  however it was time for me to move on.  Not because I didn't love working with 3rd graders, but because I could no longer (in good conscience) subject young children to the pressures of standardized testing.  Don't get me wrong I have the highest respect for teachers in testing grades, but my last year in 3rd grade had been particularly difficult, and I had begun to doubt whether the methods in place were ethical.

My decision to change grade levels did not come without self doubt and guilt. I felt that my moving to another grade was in some ways the equivalent of abandoning the I made a vow to continue speaking out against a system that valued test scores over children, test prep over meaningful learning, and test takers over critical & creative thinkers.  I sent numerous emails, shared letters, and told my story.  I know my story alone will not make a difference, but when combined with the voices of other Oklahoma educators, parents, and citizens we can create change.

My heart has always been in the early grades, so I was beyond excited when I was given the privilege of teaching 1st grade! In the days approaching the new school year I began to understand that  my role as a first grade teacher would give me the opportunity to not only teach and facilitate learning for my first graders, but to show parents what active engaged learning looks like, help parents understand the importance of creativity, exploration, collaboration...all the important things that a test driven system pushes to the side.  As an education professional sometimes I take for granted that parents understand what an engaged classroom should like. Many parents think of school as quiet rows of children doing worksheets.  I wanted to open their eyes to something new.  I wanted parents to expect more from education so that they would recognize the need for advocacy in the future.

I've come away with a deeper understanding of my role as advocate...I don't have to teach 3rd grade to be an advocate speaking out against testing.  I have the unique opportunity to lay the foundation for what the learning process should look like and share that process with parents.   I have the opportunity to discuss 3rd grade testing and it's implications with parents before it's too late for them to prepare, I have the opportunity to encourage parents to be their child's advocate!