Teaching creative engagement
How can we encourage classroom teachers to view their classrooms as creative spaces? To understand that in order to foster and develop creativity and enhance engagement in the children within that space they may be required to shift gears and both’ be’ and do things differently? How indeed when the teaching examples and pedagogical practices provided for them by university educators are most often sadly lacking in both creativity and engagement. Researchers assert that many education courses lack cohesion and in fact hinder pre-service teacher development and understanding. Fostering a culture of creative engagement within any classroom requires the development of a particular ethos or culture- a composite of a set of common values and beliefs. This ethos is one that relies in large part on the interpersonal skills of the teacher influenced by their ‘biographies, experiences and perceptions’. Another important component impacting upon the creation of classroom culture is an ability to use humour and a willingness to change the traditional power relationships between student and teacher. If we are to encourage classroom teachers to explore the development of classrooms that encourage creativity and engagement, university educators must first be courageous enough to develop such spaces within their own university subjects. This paper explores just such a cultural change initiated within one university subject and charts the types of pedagogical decisions that were required to create this type of space. By first modelling good practice and then mentoring pre-service teachers through explicit discussion and the development of supportive classroom activities, many came to an increased understanding of what was possible in their own classrooms- they were able to use concept mapping to highlight and identify these connections.