Educating in a pandemic has become increasingly challenging for educators. Learning in a pandemic is challenging for our students and their families. As we continue to traverse this ever changing landscape of education, we must leverage the resources that we have available and use them in the most productive way. This can include devices, applications, paper, pencils, and almost anything that you can imagine. This combination of both digital and analog resources are often remixed to help students when they are challenged to learn.
My eight year old son is amazing for many reasons. One of those reasons involves his use of resources that we have at home such as stray notebook paper, a ragtag collection of pens and markers, and many pieces of toys. He is often inspired to create new things based on an active imagination that is unbridled by shame gremlins. He is an innovator and creator. He uses the constraints of the materials that he has to create and make something new. He does not let obstacles stop him. In fact, sometimes, I don’t even think that he realizes that obstacles would often be dead ends for many individuals. He somehow finds a way to go around them and create something new and different. In addition to being a proud father, I am mesmerized by his determination to stick to his intention and allow his idea to evolve. Constraints only improve his creative capabilities.
As I think about educating in a pandemic world, many of our teachers have embraced their creativity or what is more appropriately called creative thinking. I have seen teachers, based on necessity, develop and enhance their digital teaching skills tremendously. Educators who in the past had shown minimal interest in using Flipgrid and Canvas have transitioned into being the “go to” people in their school on these tools. Many of them are providing leadership and direction to other teachers in areas that used to matter very little to them. For many of our educators, their desire and commitment to support students and their learning have made a tremendous difference in how they have become active and creative problem solvers. The impetus on supporting students have pushed many educators to grow tremendously in expanding digital pedagogy. Further, our educators are supporting each other through various social media by sharing their resources and expertise to support others. It is amazing to think about how much our educators have grown in such a short period of time.
While teaching and learning in a pandemic has and will continue to present challenges, I hope educators will reflect on how much this disruption has challenged them to grow and evolve. Additionally, I hope that we will use the lessons that we have learned to implement in our work with students. Our students, much like my son, actually strives to be creative and innovative. He wants to be a maker and creator, He likes to show how he sees the world and how we imagines the world could be. We should work to support our students in doing the same. Our students bring a variety of experiences and ideas with them. We must create learning experiences where students incorporate these and remix them with new ideas to show a deeper and most impactful learning. As we move forward, I encourage all educators to think about how we can maximize the impact of this disruption to empower our students to grow into become creators and innovators. If you are looking for resources to support in the journey, I highly recommending snagging a copy of “intention: critical creativity in the classroom” (yes, I am using the official name of the book and disregarding standard excepted rules for book titles), by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder. They provide a great explanation on critical creativity with insights as well as ways and paths to implement various activities in your classroom. Another amazing resource is “Educated by Design” by Michael Cohen. Cohen’s book is a game changer and will change how you approach design and creativity with your students. Finally, I would encourage completed both parts of Adobe’s Creative Educator Program (adobe.ly/ACE). This program is free and provides a lot of resources to help guide your thinking around creative thinking.
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The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.