In this article, we share how teachers can bring creativity into the classroom through the 3 C’s - curiosity, connections and collaboration.

“Stop playing in class!”  

“If you want to play, play during recess!” 

These were the familiar sayings many of us may have heard from our teachers over the years. Class time was always taught to us as a time to be serious while playtime is reserved for time outside of class. But have we ever asked ourselves - why?

…. Why should playtime only be reserved for recess?  Why can’t it be a part of our learning journey? 

Coincidentally, findings by researchers support this idea that ‘joy’ and ‘deep learning’ are complementary elements. Playful experiences, especially in the early years, have been found to help children develop important cognitive skills like concentration, problem solving and flexible thinking. 

Far from being two disparate concepts, ‘play’ actually helps to promote skills needed for effective learning.  

And one teacher who recognises this potential and is harnessing the power of play in her classroom is Cikgu Normizan from SK Keramat 2 - our Frog Teacher Award winner for ‘Enjoy What You Do and Who You Do It With.’

In her classroom, ‘joy’ is not an incidental part of the classroom experience, but a powerful, motivating tool used to connect and engage students in the English lessons that she teaches. Her students don’t learn grammar and syntax via traditional means, but through fun ways like putting on skits, rhyming, or even singing! Taking inspiration from how she inspires joy in the classroom, there are three C’s every teacher can follow:

1. Creativity: Spark curiosity with what you have!

While it is tempting to think that we would need advanced tools to ignite excitement in the classroom, the opposite is often true. “Teachers don’t always need to bring computers or tablets to create fun in the classroom, it’s more about the interaction between teachers and students and the activities that you do,” says Cikgu Normizan. 

Example of a teacher sparking curiosity in the classroom. Image sourced from Pexels.

For example, she turned a regular English lesson into an opportunity for students to practise the language through role-playing. By repurposing materials she already had for a skit on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she encouraged her students to perform the play in its entirety. While some may have struggled with the pronunciation of certain words at the beginning, she says that many of her students, including herself, really enjoyed the lesson in the end because it gave them a chance to express themselves creatively!

Her story becomes a powerful example of how everyday teachers can bring fun and delight to their students with the simplest of tools. Like the story of Goldilocks, it’s all about finding the right fit where you’re at so that you too can begin to invite joy in the classroom wherever you are, with whatever you may have!

The point is to involve your students in the learning process… and to do it in a fun way!

2. Connection: Find links to what your students would be interested in 

Quick check: Do you know what your students are interested in? 

Yes, no or maybe - we can all agree that it is important for teachers seeking to connect with their students to find out what they may be interested in. As Cikgu Normizan reminds us, students want a lesson that is meaningful to them. And while we know that students need to learn for their future, the problem is… the future is too far away. Students want to find joy and meaning in the lessons they learn now.

Knowing what your students are interested in will help you know what tools to use, to engage them and make the lesson exciting. For example, Cikgu Normizan experiments with various mediums to pique her students’ interests in learning English. Hopping onto new trends that her students enjoy like educational TikTok videos or Youtube unboxing videos, she uses them as learning tools in her class.  

Image provided by Cikgu Normizan

She would also encourage students who enjoy watching game reviews of online games, to switch from watching game reviews in Malay to those done by streamers in English. This way, they can continue picking up examples of how the language is used. “Room to explore”, she mentions, is especially important for students who may not have had the same amount of exposure to the language at home. By tapping into the things that interest them the most, she is then able to help them to develop a newfound appreciation for the language.

I try to find something that is interesting to them and that they want to talk about. Then I relate it back to whatever lesson that I’m teaching

3. Collaboration: Share and learn with other teachers 

Image sourced from Pexels.

As the famous saying goes, ‘alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ The same can be said when it comes to learning new ways of how teachers can bring joy to the classroom. With an understanding that today’s generation requires a different approach to learning, Cikgu Normizan shares how she seeks out opportunities to learn how she can make her lessons more interesting from the people she knows would know students best - other teachers, like herself. 

Whether these are younger colleagues in her school, experts from teacher training courses which she meets or sharing sessions by featured educators at the Leaps of Knowledge conference, Cikgu Normizan shares how she is always looking for new ways to connect and learn from others on how learning can be made more enjoyable for her students. 

I think collaboration among teachers is very important…  not only do we share on how we are teaching - tips and tricks -  but we also share, any resources we have.

Taking inspiration from Cikgu Normizan’s resourcefulness, we want to help educators like yourself gain greater access to resources that can help you to transform learning experiences for your students. Our recently launched HEART Course is a free training course designed to equip and empower educators with the tools needed to make a difference in their schools and communities. Our Enjoy What You Do and Who You Do It With session, especially, has specially-tailored resources to help you begin the first steps towards recreating learning experiences for students by making joy a focus in the learning process!

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