For many of us, the idea of having a teacher hand out strict work-shifts is one that provokes feelings of dread. We picture the tyrannical instructor, the red pen, and the endless piles of ungraded writing. Sometimes these visions are so vivid that it’s difficult to conjure up a more stressful experience than a standard creative writing class. Luckily, there are a number of ways in which you can encourage kind feelings among your students while improving their creative writing skills.
Experiment With Timing
If you’re new to teaching, you might not know what times work best for your students. After all, they are enrolled in a class for a reason: they may need help with their creative writing skills. This is why you’ll want to experiment with different timetables to see which ones help your students the most. Some teachers find that having shorter sessions helps students stay focused, while some enjoy having longer breaks to bond with their students and encourage problem-solving and brainstorming. You can’t predict what will work well for your particular class, so you’ll need to trial and error to find out what works best for your students’ experience. As a general rule of thumb, if you want your students to produce high-quality work, give them longer breaks between sessions.
Offer Extra-Curricular Activities
Creative writing isn’t the only thing your students will benefit from. You can encourage their development as individuals by offering a range of extracurricular activities. Many universities now offer additional subjects that can be applied to creative writing, such as graphic design, film-making, and photography. If your school doesn’t currently have a photography club, get them started. It’s important not to overload your students, but having more than one option encourages creativity and independence of thought. It’s also worth considering whether or not you need a PhD to teach creative writing. If not, why not try for a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing instead? You can apply for this in most universities and it will offer your students a valuable skill set that can be applied in a number of ways. Think of the possibilities: graphic design for magazines, advertising, or an anthology of short stories; a film to be shown in class or on TV; and even photography for businesses, blogs, or social media.
Put The Pen Down
While most teaching institutions might frown upon revealing secrets and telling students which tools to use, you can take this approach if you think it will benefit your students. If your experience has taught you that red penning is the worst, you’ll want to stop this at once. Red penning is where you mark an error on a piece of work and then the writer has to go back and fix it. It’s a technique that many students detest because they think it encourages them to be careless with their work. It can be useful in certain instances, such as when a writer wants to point out an error they’ve made. However, relying on red pen too much can result in decreased productivity and bad writing. If you find that your students have become very dependent on this tool, it might be time for a change. Instead of focusing on whether or not the writing is grammatically correct, take a step back and ask yourself whether or not this is the kind of writing that you want to see from your student. Does this add anything new to the conversation? Does it make the story more compelling? If not, it’s probably not helping your students at all. Instead of worrying about whether or not they’ll use the proper English or if this is the right tense, ask yourself these questions. If you’re not sure, ask a fellow educator or experienced writer for help.
If your students have turned out well and you want to thank them for their hard work, you can do so by rewarding them with a small gift or a letter of commendation. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also hand out gold stars for coming in to the class prepared or give them an award for showing the most improvement. In addition to rewarding your students for good work habits, this will also help to create a positive environment for learning. Creativity and effort often go hand-in-hand, so rewarding your students for their persistence will help you to encourage this and improve their attitude toward schoolwork.
Last but not least, we have fun. Creativity isn’t always easy, and it’s certainly not always fun. However, your students will appreciate your efforts to make their school experience as pleasant as possible. This means creating a relaxed and enjoyable environment, which might involve things like casual dress code (if you’re an English teacher), having fun reading sessions, or allowing them to socialize with their friends during breaks. A little bit of fun now and then can help make studying less stressful, especially if it’s contrasted with a tense and stressful experience. In the end, having a little fun now and then can go a long way toward creating a more positive learning environment for your students.
Encouraging a student’s creativity can be difficult. After all, you don’t want to give them too much freedom or independence because you want to keep a close eye on their progress. However, by taking the above tips into consideration, you’ll be able to create an environment where your students can develop their creativity and prove to you that they’re ready for the next stage.