Thursday, January 31, 2008


Miguel's response to my post about a good teacher provided more food for thought. He wrote:
But quickly, I believe that we've set teachers up to atrophy that creative engine of their's. Experience teaches me that it doesn't atrophy, but that you can lose confidence in your own ability...creative juices flow strong as ever, you just don't think they're there.
First of all, I think Miguel is very right about the creativity existing long after we have confidence in ourselves. I think of my own experience and know that. As a child, my brother was the artistic, creative one and I was the smart, studious one. I never thought I could be creative at all. But as time passed (and as we discovered my brother was smart and could be studious, too!) I realized that I was as creative as he was. But it took a long time for me to believe that.

I think this is really true for teachers. Teaching is a creative art. Every day we have to go in the classroom and respond to our learners and their needs. We have plans, the broad outline of the painting, but the details must evolve. That is where the creativity comes in. As teachers, we do this on a regular basis. We start a lesson, see it isn't working, and find a new way to present the material. I think that most of us do this even when we have a very rigid curriculum that we have to follow -- or maybe because we have a very rigid curriculum. It requires a great deal of creativity to make that kind of curriculum work.

But we do start to lose confidence in our abilities to be creative when people are second-guessing us, when we have to be too accountable.

Miguel also said:
Reflecting on instructional practice is the catalyst for change, not what you use to accomplish it...however, being connected via blogs and wikis helps accelerate that change tremendously.
I agree with that statement, of course. The connections that we make online can give us ideas we might never have had on our own. We are constantly challenged by the people we read and the ones who read us. We are inspired to action by the success of others.

Change is not easy. If our institutions are not open, innovative places, it is hard for us to find support for change there. The online community meets that need. I still struggle with the question of how to actually bring about the change I want, I but I know that there are people out there who will give me advice, who will let me learn from their successes and their mistakes.

Thank you all.

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