Normally, I’d write how something during the week sparks my thoughts on how I can use the event or observation as a prompt for writing and creating art in general. This week, however, my creativity hit me in a totally different way. So, even though I always offer at least one activity, regardless of your medium, this post is more about filling a need.
As you may know, I’m also a classroom teacher. Ever since I started teaching, I’ve been creating my own materials. I would use a text or workbook to get the basics delivered, but then there were assessments, games, projects, and paired or group activities that I’d create in order for the students to have the opportunity to practice or learn or demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways, with the goal to help more students learn the material at a deeper level. And for years I was completely satisfied with recreating curriculum every year, depending on the classes I was teaching and the level of students in my room. A few years ago, when a few fellow teachers and myself decided to start our own business, I wanted first and foremost to get our ‘teacher created materials’ out there for others to use. I was amazed when my friends informed me that the didn’t create all that much for their classrooms. They stuck to the textbooks or materials and games already created by another teacher.
I’ve noticed this week, that for me, necessity is the mother of creativity. As I work with a student on understanding fractions, my mind begins to pull together thoughts on what I could create that would help the student make more sense of the concept. It might go something like this:
“He seems to stumble on remembering how to convert a mixed number to an improper fraction. What is a mnemonic that I can give him to help him remember? How about a flash card that he can make? What colors could the numerator, denominator, and whole number be that might aid in his memory recall? Could I have him pantomime the process? What about playing a simple game of Bingo or Concentration where he has to match the mixed number with the improper fraction?” And so the conversation goes in my thoughts.
Perhaps it is because this is how I write (based on the movie screen in my head where conversations and action takes place with my characters in my books), that I can ‘see’ the game, the moving pieces, or the cards that the student could turn over to make the connections. I know that it wouldn’t be necessary for me to come up with these ideas, if I didn’t have students struggling with this concept. I’ve used this over the years for everything that I’ve made in my classroom. I see a need, and I respond with creating something to bridge the gap between confusion and understanding.
It isn’t just with curriculum materials that I’ve come up with ideas for. About two years ago, frustrated with the lack of real progress and success for some Special Ed. students in the general education classes, I devised a Learning Resource Center that would fill multiple roles, such as gaps where kids’ needs weren’t being met, and even offer support to general ed. teachers who were inundated with Special Ed. kids and having no idea how to alter their curriculum to ensure success. (Let me state here that what’s good for a Resource student is good for every student.) At the time, nothing came of my idea. I have the chance this year to help my Department move in a direction that would benefit everyone and meet a multitude of needs. What was the premise for my LRC idea? The number of failing Resource students, the lack of availability and time for teachers to ensure accommodations and assist general ed. staff with modifications, the amount of overwhelm that Special Ed. teachers are under at my site, and the changes in Federal and State law. There are many needs, and my creativity began to spin out ways that those needs could be fulfilled.
I’ve even applied this concept to my business. What needs do potential clients have, and how can what I do fill those needs? I’ve created products and special sales, I’ve joined with other small business owners to provide joint offers to both sets of clients, and I’ve even altered the delivery and provided more options for my products and services all in the name of creating what is needed. Some of those efforts can be viewed on my website (www.myjoyenterprises.com) in the form of my novels, my yoga poem project, the classroom materials that I’ve developed, and my services. I even give free tips! So my challenge to you (I guess I can’t get by without offering at least something to consider!) is to begin to notice what other areas in your life are made easier by your creativity. Are there problems you’ve solved, something that you’ve built, an idea that you’ve had that will make something work better or help someone in some way? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment on how your creativity responds to the needs in your life.