In the Leadership Mindset course I developed, I ask participants to do something creative that they've never done before. They follow up with a reflection on what went well, what frustrated then, and what seemed to impede or advance the process. It's a great exercise as they then apply their personal experiences to how they interact with students or others as leaders.
The logic, I figure, is that we need personally undergo the ins and outs of the creative process, if we're going to ask our students to do so. That way, we can offer more personalized strategies and suggestions.
Yet this exercise proves to be one of the more difficult for my teacher-participants. The biggest issue is time, of course, but even once they make the time, they are sometimes still uncertain. Often, they lean towards doing things for their students or in-line with instruction, somehow. There's a fear, there, about doing something for themselves or, more aptly, as themselves, not as teachers.
For those who do set out on a personal endeavor, the creative experience is far more rich and rewarding, so this is my attempt to motivate those participants, who might be thinking about doing something for their classes or students,to move towards more "me" thinking. To do something creatively as themselves.
In the spirit of walking the talk, here are my reflections on my current creative "thing": writing a screenplay.
It had been awhile since I tackled something new, but I was inspired a couple of months ago by one of my former students, Vincent Stalba, who is developing a web series: Job Interviews (very funny, donate if you can--I did).
Vince was kind enough to let me read the scripts, and as I was reading them, I thought...Now, that's something I've never done. That's something I have no idea how to do. How can I use this to help motivate my course participants? Gosh, how does a person even start this process?
First, in undertaking this project, I have been happily surprised to learn so many new things. This process has been one, great-big, long practice in research. From the more concrete stuff (how to format a spec script) to the more intangible topical stuff. I can only imagine that if the NSA is watching my online searches, they've probably flagged me for stuff like: chemical warfare, effects of neurotoxins, gas attacks, and floor-plan of the Pentagon.
The plot of my screenplay entails quite a few details of things I just don't know about. For example, I have no idea what kinds of medical tools or machines a prison infirmary has. However, if my characters are going to be "in" a prison infirmary and have to do things, I need to know what's there. I find myself often stopping after about two typed lines of information to search for answers before I can continue.
(Thinking as a teacher, I find the experience of developing a screenplay would be a powerful one for students, perhaps in lieu of a research paper? Why not? After I'm done with this, I think I'll develop a unit on it.)
My research sometimes takes me to things that I'd just not considered. I have often had to stop writing for the day after seeing exceptionally moving images or documentaries. My eyes have been powerfully opened on a number of topics.
Far better for them to have a positive experience than just a "get it done" experience. (Can we do this for students? hmm.)
I haven't really been frustrated in this process (at least, not yet) as I'm well aware that what I'm doing is flexible and rough. I'm just enjoying the "doing" of it. I'm allowing my mind to imagine and reach without worrying about perfection.
I certainly don't have any notions of it ever going to the big screen, but it would really neat if it did, of course. I think being reasonable and realistic in my expectations also helps with the frustration. I will have someone in the business review it, though, and offer advice. We'll see.
The thing is: I'm not afraid.
Is that the key to creativity? Not being afraid of the process, the outcome, or the judgment of either?
#thingstosharewithstudents #thosewhocan #creativityhasnofear
Mindy and some of her former students wrote Transparent Teaching of Adolescents: Creating the Ideal Class for Students and Teachers.
Check it out!