When Teachers are Denied Creativity

Be his advocate!

Be his advocate!

“You must all teach the same lesson, the same way every day. I should be able to walk into any classroom and see the same stuff going on.” – your future former admin

The statement above kills me to no end. It is the ultimate slap in the face for many teachers because nothing good ever comes from lack of autonomy. I have personally heard this statement come from the mouths of several teachers in several different schools as they defended their horrendously bad practices. They believe that they cannot deviate from “the plan” or run the risk of being reprimanded. Yes, this happens in our schools.

Talk about slap in the face! Some may feel as though the “edu-twitterverse” gets a bit preachy when it comes to fighting for student creativity. However, this practice of denying teachers the ability to be creative feeds the sink hole where student creativity has been lost. This is where Sir Ken Robinson’s voice on schools killing creativity rings in my ears. How can we expect teachers to synonymously adopt the notion of allowing kids to expand their horizons if the people planning cannot do it themselves?

The term “common assessment” has now become “common lesson” which has now become “common classroom” because surely we are teaching “standard kids” for standardized testing. Right?

As a classroom teacher, I’ve been in this same situation and I flat out ignored the rule. My students were not the same from class to class. They were all very different and had varying needs that I needed to address. The teachers on my team carried different teaching styles. I couldn’t teach like them and they couldn’t teach like me. We taught the same standards but we taught them in different ways depending on our students.

Sometimes, the greatest risk that we take as teachers is not what we do in the classroom but what we do in spite of the odds that are against us. When you know that what you are doing is not in the best interest of your students, you’ve got to make the decision to stand up for the kids that you teach. If you don’t, who will?

My advice is to come up with an alternative lesson and justify the purpose. Include personal nuances related to each student that warrants such a change. Admins that make bone headed decisions such as this are bent on data. Fine…Let data support why your classes may need to look different. Include technology. Show that kids are collaborating, communicating, critically thinking and creating. Always be solutions based as that speaks volumes.

As a classroom teacher, I tended to make the change, display/share student work and then wait on the fall-out which never happened. As an instructional leader, I came up with justifiable reasons why our teachers needed to be able to make decisions for their classrooms. All reasons began and ended with kids. You’ve got to start there. You’ve got to start somewhere. Doing nothing is unacceptable.

The first line of advocacy for your students is YOU. You have the power and the right to do so.

Dear Admin,

I need you to trust the education and knowledge that I have of the subject that I teach. I know my students and what is best for them. I cannot in good faith continue to bombard them with lessons that do not spark their interest.  I need to teach to the individuals in my room and they deserve better.


Your Future Self

Comments 2

  1. Oh my gosh! These are the words coming out of my administrator’s mouth! It drives me crazy! I can’t do it, and I don’t do it! I teach the curriculum, but I have to go “outside their box.”

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