This year’s TeachMeet Streatham took ‘creativity’ as its theme. At the end of tiring half-term where exam classes are finally sent off to face their fate , most teachers are feeling anything but creative. However, the chance to meet colleagues from a variety of schools and hear some inspirational speakers is exactly what was required to energise us for the final push to the summer holidays.
After Dr. Millan Sachania (@millansachania) opened the evening with an anecdote about the importance of creativity, James Mannion (@rethinking_ed) took the floor. He helpfully looked at the difference between understanding and creativity and discussed how we can be creative in a fixed system. He believes one of the answers lies in schools running ‘Learning to Learn’ courses to give the pupils the freedom to think creatively as they complete a number of project-based tasks.
The enthusiasm of Nikki Snelgrove (@NikkiSnelgrove) encouraged everyone in the room to take risks in their teaching which might mean letting go of the traditional teaching model. She extolled the power of flipped learning and shared some of the practicalities of how to make it work.
Having moved into a senior leadership role this year, I was particularly interested to hear Dr Jill Berry (@jillberry102) on ‘creative leadership’. Although her recent research has been about making the move from deputy to head, she was adamant that we are all leaders as every teacher is a leader in their classroom. She encouraged us to think about the best and worst leaders we have experienced to help us understand where we are aiming and what pitfalls to avoid.
As leaders we need to not only value our teams, but understand them and get the balance right between supporting them and challenging them. Using an analogy of animals, we must think about the foxes, owls, lambs and donkeys in our schools and how to get the best from each one of them.
Jonnie Noakes (@JonnieNoakes) then took us through some of the latest research into creativity in education before Toby Cooper and Emily Mundy gave us some practical examples of the creative approaches in dramatherapy.
The penultimate speaker Debra Kidd (@debrakidd) talked about the complexities all teachers face thrown up by the intellectual, physical, emotional and socio-cultural needs of our pupils. While there is much that is not in the teacher’s control, if complexity is planned for, then it is amazing the impact that we can make.
Jaz Ampaw-Farr (@jazampawfarr) had no doubt about the impact that teachers had made in her life. She breathed fresh air into the room with her powerful personal account of how teachers can make a difference. Using the tragicomedy of her own life, she implored us to see failure as an opportunity. At the end , she gave us an ‘I am a mistak artist’ badge. Let us not be afraid of failure, but see it as an opportunity to get creative.
What can we do differently? What risks can we take? How can we be creative?
Roll on #TMStreatham 2018!