The pandemic made it visible that teaching is one of the most creative professions out there. Teachers developed innovative solutions for learning in ever-changing conditions. To celebrate teachers' creativity, The Teachers Network in Turkey held a Creative Confidence Festival this April. Now the organizers share their insights on boosting teachers' creative confidence and organizing a successful online event.
Rule Number One: Ditch Outdated Ideas about Creativity
Creativity is often considered to be peculiar to certain occupations and sectors. Yet, the present pandemic has shown that teachers can come up with innovative solutions one after another. Some used puppets across computer screens to excite students; some took tours around their neighborhood to preserve real-life contact with their class, while others launched their own Youtube channels to adapt to youngsters' behavior online. Teachers generated quick and practical solutions to the problems in education during hard times.
Creative confidence can be defined as an individual's faith to create change. As members of the Teachers Network, we have been close witnesses to teachers' transformative power, especially this year. To acknowledge this power, we decided to create a platform where teachers' creative confidence is celebrated. Thus, the Creative Confidence Festival was born.
“We couldn’t convince people that the moderators of the festival were real teachers since they were such professionals. We have heard expressions like ‘Teachers lack confidence’ or ‘Teachers don’t believe in their transformative power’ many times, so in that aspect the festival made us feel good.” - Festival participant
Rule Number Two: Gather a Group of Change Agents and Let Them Decide
A digital festival experience necessitated a digital space. A group of 22 teachers referred to as "Change Agents" came together and started their research on digital experiences and tools. The first thing to decide was the look and feel of the festival site. HundrED's annual Innovation Summit was a source of inspiration both in content and the digital infrastructure. At the summit, we experienced how HundrED brought teachers and different stakeholders together from around the globe and enabled them to share their innovative ideas and experiences virtually. After comparing different platforms, we chose Attendify. Thanks to it, participants could switch parallel sessions without the confusion of "Which Zoom link should I click now?".
The festival experience was designed with the conjoined efforts of various departments within the Teachers Network team and working groups composed of teachers. Mimicking a physical festival, the Creative Confidence Festival had different stages, each focusing on a unique point of view in relation to creativity; "Hello to Creativity: Opening Stage", "1 Teacher 1 Discipline: Broken Stereotypes Stage", "From Missteps to Step Forward: Colorful Mistakes Stage", "Rewarding Our Mistakes: Closing Stage". We also wanted to bring the interactive element of festivals to digital and create a space that allowed people to interact, explore what is beyond the stages and seize the moment. For this, we created a space called Inspiration Hub, a collection of creative content composed of songs, illustrations, paintings, articles, games, and stories about creativity. In addition to Inspiration Hub, our 32 festival partners had their own profiles to showcase their work to attendees.
Rule Number Three: Create Structures that Increase Agency
After more than a year through the pandemic, we as educators still face serious challenges. These include limited access to educational technologies that vary across different regions, even neighborhoods. More children drop out of school due to economic hardships and join the workforce, inclusive education practices are not as common as they should be, and the structure and content of education are not compatible with 21st-century skills. Teachers Network is where teachers find space to get empowered and embrace creativity, critical thinking, inclusive education, and whatever skills they need.
One of the most important lessons we have learned during the pandemic was to move beyond institutional limitations and act agile. We have discovered that structures that are agile enough provide the needed space and motivation for change-makers. Research shows that the more teachers' agency is realized, the more their transformative power is exercised. Thus, it is of utmost importance for education systems to operate upon teachers' agency. However, the importance of teachers' agency does not mean that all responsibility is moved solely on the shoulders of teachers. We need systemic change and collaboration between all stakeholders to give every child access to quality education. Spaces and digital spaces, like the Creative
Confidence Festival, help achieve grand missions by allowing teachers to interact with their colleagues and stakeholders of education.
For more information on Teachers Network, please visit their Innovation page.