No time to be a creative teacher in class?

It seems I have fallen into a trap as a teacher. What’s that trap? Well, I know that young children need time to be creative. I know they need time to explore arts and crafts. I know this, but I don’t give them as many opportunities to do this as I should.

I have gotten better than the past, but there’s room for improvement.


The Beginning:

I have basically spent my entire teaching career in the international school scene.

My first teaching position was as a kindergarten teacher at what was a small international school that was still developing its curriculum. As a homeroom teacher I had a great deal of freedom. There was little pressure on me with regards to testing and assessment.

I would conduct my circle time, teach phonics, math and fun activities revolving around our monthly theme.

Students had a lot of play time and were always working on crafts, creative problem solving and fine motor skill development.

As the years progressed at that school, the curriculum became more developed.

Initially it was developed by a few Head Teachers such as myself, but then an entire department was created to develop the curriculum.

Things became clearer, more defined and organized, but as that happened, the day-to-day schedule and expectations of us teachers became more rigorous. Testing became a thing and parents, being the customers began demanding more results.

As time went on, our reading programs, math units and monthly themes became far more developed and there became less time to have art classes or make crafts.

Students academic abilities and skills grew year after year, but the “fun factor” of class seemed to vanish as did a lot of their creative problem-solving abilities.


Kindergarten to Elementary School:

After six years as a kindergarten teacher I moved on to elementary school .

My first elementary school worked on a bilingual model which meant that each class had two homeroom teachers. There were many down-sides to this model, many of which I will discus in other posts here on Making Better Teachers, but I’ll focus on the creative block!

Since the day was split between two languages and two teachers meant that there was a lot of pressure to get a LOT of curriculum taught in a very limited amount of time.

The school had recently become an IB PYP school and the demands to get Unit of Inquiry work done was the priority. Stakeholders also had some extremely high expectations with regards to numeracy and testing.

Students were always busy and always working. Class began at 8:30am and students didn’t get to go home until 4:20pm at the very earliest. Many stayed much longer to complete their work.

In the midst of that there was absolutely no time to create art, to draw, to dance, to sing to enjoy a maker space or to make crafts.


I’m getting better…

Time has marched on and I am now in a new educational setting. Things are different. We have a solid curriculum, but I now have the freedom to be more creative as an educator like I was in the early years of my teaching career.

I have the freedom to be more creative as well the experience I have gained over the years as a teacher.

My students have a wonderful art teacher they visit twice a week. We have Fantastic Fridays. Every Friday afternoon my student get to spend their time creating art, making crafts or building things using our classroom maker space. Fantastic Friday is essentially Genius Hour or Golden Time.

My classroom maker space is now a point of pride for my class. They love to build and creatively solve problems.

Things are looking up and the creative teacher in me is breathing and growing again.

I now pose a question to you…

Do you feel you could be more creative in your classroom?





About the Author:

Kevin O’Shea is an IB/PYP educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is also the host of the upcoming Making Better Teachers Podcast as well as the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast.

Twitter: @MadForMaple





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