Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Creative Classroom

In my last post, I talked about the importance of preparation. My family is much happier if I am not running around Sunday morning, frantically trying to gather supplies. My husband is especially happy since arriving 29 minutes before Sunday School begins is late in his book.

So I try to have all my books and supplies gathered in one place in a plastic tub on Saturday. Today, all my supplies are sitting on a table in our sun porch. As one daughter came through the sun porch this evening, she asked, “What’s that bottle with yellow liquid on the table?” “It’s ammonia,” I said. “What’s ammonia doing on the table?’ she asked. “It’s for my junior church lesson.” It’s scary when a teenager doesn’t say anything but simply walks away from you.

Five minutes later, the next daughter came through the sun porch. “What’s my Jenga blocks doing on the sun porch?” she asked. “They’re for my junior church lesson,” I explained. “O-kay,” she intoned. I hastened to explained, “Well, you know what I always say . . .” “I know,” she interrupted me. “Don’t be surprised by anything.”

I strongly believe that it’s important to maintain a routine and structure in your class that kids can count on, that they know what to expect before they walk in the door. In today’s chaotic world, kids need order. They need to be able to anticipate. Maintaining an order in your class will help you maintain order.

Yet I believe just as strongly in having that element of surprise. Always have something different about your lesson that makes the kids ask, “What is she going to do different this time?’ This philosophy has led me to make my family wonder about my sanity. Well, to be an effective teacher, you do have to lose a bit of your sanity. You need to lose your inhibition, think outside the box and be willing to draw outside the lines. It may be in the form of putting on a bathrobe to play the role of the Apostle Paul, putting baby powder in your hair so you can portray the elderly widow, Naomi, or demonstrating how to play hopscotch so you can teach a memory verse a different way even if your foot hurts for two days afterwards because you haven’t played hopscotch for twenty years. When you are willing to add the element of creative surprise, your kids will notice. Those will be the lessons they will remember because you dared to do something different.

As you teeter on the edge of insane creativity, I suppose it is possible to go over the edge. I still wonder if that new group of three or four kids never came back after their first visit because that was the week I fed my class horseradish.


Patrizia Tirel said...

Dear Karin,
I live in Italy and I'm a german teacher. I was googling about the tool i-catcher and I found your post about Mrs Winn...funny isn't it? Well I was fascinated and I went on exploring your blog. I wanted to know who you are and what happened to you since Mrs Winn's years. I've just read your thoughts about insane creativity (or creative insanity ?) and I agree totally with you. I've seen myself and my family as well in your description... Thanks and have a nice summer
Patrizia from Gorizia ;-)
PS: I've bookmarked yor blog!

Karen Wingate said...

Thanks Patrizia. I'm glad you found my blog. For your convenience, you can subscribe to my blog so every time there is a new post, you'll be notified by email. Check the blox on the right hand column of my blog. This is a service called Feed Blitz and it's perfactly safe.