Eureka and Middle School Math · UDL in Practice · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Redefining Creativity

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I recently finished reading the Outlander series.  (If you are not familiar with the series, there are currently eight books, each of which weighs in at about 1400 pages on average–it was a full-time reading experience for a few months.)  As I was fishing around for something to read at breakfast, I realized I had a stack of back copies of magazines, the victims of my recent Outlander obsession.

As I flipped through the stack, including two WEBS catalogs full of yarn for the loom I haven’t touched in almost a year, I realized that the magazines were all talking about spring and the creativity of spring, new growth, blah, blah, blah.  At first, I felt guilty.  My friend’s baby is almost a year old and I haven’t even wound the fiber for her baby present.  On the other side of the room, a baby hat waits, half-knit.  And don’t even get me started on the state of my weaving closet!  I appear to have left all of my creative work in the dust as I spend my weekends making online content for the ASSISTments program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and trying to keep up with grading for school.

And then I changed my mind.  I am being creative.  It just looks different.

For example, I am spending a lot of time writing this blog, revising and reflecting on my practice and on sharing with colleagues known and unknown.

I am thinking about and building a course a colleague and I are co-teaching this summer on Universal Design for Learning and project-based learning.

And, of course, I am always working to improve my teaching practice, to be open-minded and creative, to rethink materials and formatting and the order of the work, to listen to my colleague, Irene, who is always right, as much as I fight her on it!

Despite all of this, I am a little appalled to realize that I rarely think of my work as creative, even while I am realizing how much creativity goes into my days.  Prior to starting this blog, I hadn’t written for publication in about 20 years.  Now, I write every week.  But, much like being a stay-at-home parent is often not viewed as work, the work we do as teachers is often not viewed as or valued as creative.

Of course, this is crazy because we need a significant amount of creativity to teach!  Just as engaging work in a classroom might not be glamorous, might not have bells and whistles, the creativity of the work for my job is far from outwardly creative.  However, although my loom sits empty and makes me feel guilty, I am loving the work I am doing, learning about the 6th grade curriculum for ASSISTments, looking for a better way to teach statistics, and thinking about how to share the UDL magic with other teachers.  I can’t ask for more than having intriguing and challenging work to do.

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