Creative Ideas for Curious Teachers

4th May 2018 - Adam Halls

Recently, IVE began a pilot programme of CPD Twilights to improve creative education in schools. Known as “Creative Ideas for Curious Teachers” IVE Cultural Education Manager Verity Clarke reviews the pilot.

Between January and April 2018 IVE piloted a new series of twilight sessions for teachers. We wanted to support teachers and teaching assistants to develop their skills and confidence in using different art forms across the curriculum. Our aim is that by giving teachers lots of simple creative activities that have been shown to boost children’s learning in core subjects, like maths, science and literacy, they’ll be more inclined to try them out in the classroom.

Creative Ideas for Curious Teachers Art Lesson

We put a call out for arts practitioners who had lots of skills and experience of working in schools and with teachers; practitioners whose work had made a demonstrable change in pupils’ achievement and understanding across different subjects. We wanted a team that really understood how their activities affected pupils’ learning and to be able to confidently say ‘when I do this activity with pupils, this happens, and this is why.’

The result was a fantastic range of sessions in drama, dance, music, creative writing, visual arts, museums, digital technologies and film. All designed to demonstrate how simple but effective arts and cultural activities can help pupils to explore, understand and remember key concepts and facts, whilst developing their creative thinking and learning skills.

We were keen to support schools on their Artsmark journey through this programme, so to celebrate and reward schools for their commitment to developing arts and culture, we offered 4 free places on the programme.

“Excellent ideas for introducing creative writing to students. Experiential approach helps me to embed skills to feel more confident in myself.”

 90 places were taken up by teachers and teaching assistants from across the region. The overwhelming majority (over 94%) said that they left the sessions with a better understanding of the subject and confidence to try out their new ideas. They also said it was a valuable use of their time and would recommend the sessions to other teaching staff.

“Loved her personality and whole teaching style. Really good ideas that I will definitely put into practice.”

What we always hope is that participants will take ideas back to school and try them out for themselves as soon as possible. We all know the sooner you try out new skills the more likely you are to use them. We made sure the sessions were full of ideas that could be set up quickly, cheaply, were low risk and ranged from a quick 10 minute activity to a whole topic approach. This means teachers can dip their toe into new creative waters and test out an idea or approach without too much risk or re-planning. It feels like we got the balance right Lots of great starter ideas- easy to transfer to my setting.” and there are many examples that participants feel confident to give it a go.

Creative Ideas Curious Teachers Art Lesson

“Incredible, inspiring, really interesting. Valuable content to take back to school to share and practice. Great to have a hands-on experience.”

An added bonus is that participants said they planned to share what they’d learnt with the rest of the teaching staff back at school. By sharing ideas and comparing notes in school we know that new ideas are much more likely to be developed and embedded into classroom practice so we were delighted to hear participants say they planned to “lead whole school CPD based on some of the activities shared tonight. I think staff will really enjoy them.”

You never know when you dream up a programme like this whether it’s going to appeal to teachers. I think it’s a big ask to get a teacher to come to a professional development session after a full day in the classroom. I’m always humbled by the passion, commitment and determination of teachers who go above and beyond, to give every child in their care the best learning experiences. I met so many inspirational teachers at these sessions and I’m really pleased the sessions we’ve designed have been of value to them and their teaching practice.

Creative Ideas Curious Teachers Art Lesson

So what next?

There’s been lots of learning for us too. There was a lot of snow and sadly quite a few sessions had to be cancelled because of it. We’re looking into webinars and online sessions so we can better serve more schools, particularly those that are rural and remote.

We’re also looking at all the feedback we got from participants so we can make sure the next set of twilights is relevant and attractive to as many schools as possible.  Our participants have given us lots of ideas to develop our existing sessions and suggestions for new ones.

The words that appeared over and over in their feedback was ‘More please’! It’s great to know we’re on the right track with this programme and we’ll definitely be doing more later this year.

“Very enjoyable – time passed so quickly. It would be nice if all training was like this. Fantastic.”

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