The Creativity Toolbox: Practices for Creative Empowerment in the Classroom

TESOL Convention Session Summary


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The Creativity Toolbox: Practices for Creative Empowerment in the Classroom

Sarah Lee

Sophia University, Japan

Sara Lee delivered an inspiring presentation in TESOL Convention, which took place online on March 23-26, 2022. Reflecting on her own approach to creative teaching, Lee informed us educators about the ways we can implement creativity into our daily lives and classrooms. She started her presentation by referring to the individualistic and sociocultural definitions of creativity (Sawyer, 2012), and explained that creativity should be empowered in the classroom as it is one of the most important 21st century skills. She emphasized the need for a framework, which structures a creative process, to enhance our creative potential. She illustrated the steps of this creative process through Csikszentmihalyi (2013)’s book of “Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention” as below.

Lee explained that this process is not linear but recursive, which requires us to go back to the beginning stage and go through the earlier stages to finalize the creative process. She moved on and suggested that educators should incorporate some practices in their teaching to encourage students to develop their creativity. First of all, she highlighted the importance of openness, flexibility and sensible risk taking, which are conducive to creative teaching. In line with these, she suggested educators take sensible risks within the framework of lesson plans and curriculum when they encounter moments for creative teaching even if it is something that is not planned to do. Secondly, she explained how Sawyer’s idea of disciplined improvisation could be helpful to promote creativity in our teaching. She stated that it is also important for educators to try to understand the characteristics of creative students in order to address their needs. According to her, the problematic behavior that we identify may sometimes signal creativity in students. One last point that she touched upon was about the students who are less likely to demonstrate their creativity in the classroom. She reminded that students are more likely to express their creativity in productive ways when mistakes are encouraged as a natural part of the learning process. She finalized her presentation by sharing the suggestions below that will help educators develop their own creative potentials, which can naturally be translated into our teaching practice. 

  • Identify your creative strengths
  • Engage in everyday  creativity (little c)
  • Mindfulness
  • Keep a Journal (sketchbooks, notebooks etc.)
  • Incubate (Give yourselves time)
  • Play (Engage in something less serious and less academic, observe children because they are inherently creative)