Creative chaos and a growth mentality serving the classroom

How to avoid extinguishing the creative fire of children at school? Teacher Valérie Poirier shares the strategies she implements.

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How to avoid extinguishing the creative fire of children at school? Teacher Valérie Poirier shares the strategies she implements.

Creativity was in the spotlight at the 4th edition of Meeting of French-language schools in the network (REFER), which was held on March 16 and 17, 2017. Young and old alike came together to present their creative projects as well as to discuss the importance and place of creativity in the classroom.

During the afternoons, speakers presented workshops related to the theme of the gathering: creativity. We were able to discuss and become familiar with different subjects such as the professional learning cycle, learning by inquiry, virtual reality and augmented reality, social media, continuing education, coding and poetry, code in mathematics , robotics, sketchnoting, flipped classroom, video game creation, BreakoutEDU, doing math differently, tracking without homework or lessons, the Seesaw app, Google Cardboard and more.

Creativity chaos

I notably attended theworkshop given by Ms. Valérie Poirier, plastic arts teacher at the Commission scolaire des Découvreurs. She invited her participants to open up and question themselves.

It was when she noticed that the school was gradually putting out the creative fire in her children that Ms. Poirier began to question herself. In her journey, she discovered a man recognized for his contribution to questioning the current school system, Sir Ken Robinson. The latter believes that currently, the school model is in the image of the industry and meets the standards thereof. He questions this model a lot: why use the age of children to group them? Why bet on compliance? Why standardize the learning to be achieved?

Mrs Poirier also emphasized divergent thinking, which he mentioned in Sir Robinson's address, Changing paradigms in education, a concept essential to creativity. Since we are currently experiencing a very rapid technological revolution, it is very realistic to admit that the jobs of tomorrow will in no way be identical to those of our time and that the development of creativity among the adults of tomorrow is essential.

Ms. Poirier continued by talking about Failure, too stigmatized in the school context. Yet several celebrities have succeeded because of their persistence and positive attitude when they faced failure as it is generally understood. Think of Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, The Beatles, JK Rowling and Thomas Edison: these are just a few examples that have been presented to us. It is by having a "growth mentality" that these failures take on a whole new meaning and lead to creativity.

Growth mindset (growth mindset)

The "growth mindset" is a term increasingly used in education, which is translated in French as "growth mentality". Valérie Poirier presented this concept and ideas to us in order to integrate it into our practices. She defines the growth mindset as a state of mind that leads the learner, of all ages, to believe in the development of their abilities and to see the challenges, obstacles, efforts, feedbacks and successes of others as allies to achieve its own objectives. She also suggests her free translation of Sylvia Duckworth's work in order to change her thought pattern towards a growth mentality:

In class

In her class, Ms. Poirier encourages her students to develop a growth mentality: she encourages them to take on challenges, not to be afraid of making mistakes and to use a variety of strategies in order to achieve the tasks at hand. She also uses explicit teaching to allow the development of these strategies and the growth mentality.

Concretely, she presents the prescribed concepts to her students so that they can have a concrete idea of the learning to be achieved, because developing strategies can be very abstract for them. They illustrate these concepts on their portfolio / binder. So they always have them at hand. When they master a concept, Ms. Poirier asks her students to illustrate, diagram or represent it on the back of their portfolios. Then, learners are invited to present their learning on Seesaw, a digital portfolio that she uses, to which she associates badges once the comprehension validation process is completed. With the help of Seesaw, she is able to observe the level of comprehension of the pupils, to hear them present their strategies and their comprehension, to validate their way of doing, etc. It is then possible for this teacher to comment, in a written or oral way, what is presented in order to give an effective feedback and to collect traces for a possible evaluation of the competences.

After class

Regarding skills assessment, Valérie Poirier insists on the fact that you have to trust yourself as a professional. It is on the basis of his observations, his knowledge, his experiences and the traces collected during the learning and evaluation activities that it will be possible to make an overall judgment as to the student's skills.

Inspiring and dynamic

Ms. Poirier will have presented an inspiring workshop. She was able to demonstrate a new way of presenting challenges / difficulties / failures / efforts to learners, young and old. It is a superb legacy to share with them the principles of mindfulness, resilience, growth and benevolence, to lead them to develop confidence and autonomy in the expression of their creativity.

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About the Author

Julie R.-Bordeleau
Julie R.-Bordeleau
Former teacher and mother of a military family of 4 boys, Julie R-Bordeleau is an alternative learning guide and author. She loves discovering new educational and holistic resources and approaches that allow her clients to learn and develop in different ways, depending on their needs. Its website, its newsletter and its services are dedicated to adults who are changing the world in their own way, whether they are parents-educators, parents or professionals.

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