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Sandra Little
October 6, 2020

Creativity and Innovation: The Keys to Distance Learning Success

Ask any educator to describe the ways in which their teaching career has required creativity and innovation, and you will likely be entertained for quite a while.

I vividly recall entering the door of my first classroom overflowing with all the excitement of a first-year teacher only to find two shelves and a single doll whose appearance made Corduroy’s missing button look like a mild inconvenience. In no time I was able to put to task what I knew about environment and young children. I was able to create an effective early childhood classroom by working with and reimagining available resources.

Creativity and innovation are as common in teaching as salt and pepper are in culinary arts.

If you ever had any doubt about teachers’ ability to modify, pivot, shift, or simply adapt to circumstances, COVID-19 offers the perfect opportunity to see innovation and creativity in every second of instruction.

In-person classroom instruction has required teachers to modify every aspect of their classrooms and programs, including the physical arrangement of their rooms, opportunities for social interaction, and the learning materials available for students. Regulations are creating new opportunities to be creative—for example, “washing-in” to play with materials and “washing-out” when returning materials.

For those unable to be physically present with students, the innovations are even more profound.  Through reflective practice and strong desire to provide high-quality early learning experiences for young children, teachers have successfully reimagined strategies to make them effective in virtual settings.

Strengthen your success by building strong family partnerships.

Partnering with families is an essential key in both in-person and virtual instruction. Educators have a rich history of helping parents support their children’s education. I can honestly say that in my experience leading three-week distance learning camp for kindergartners I learned a great deal about the value of reciprocal relationships in decision-making, data collection, and effective instructional strategies.

Recognizing the need to be creative and innovative, I had to find new ways to connect with families in a fully remote setting. Scheduling routine check-ins with families via Zoom provided great insight that helped me tailor my instruction. Parents were able to identify struggles that were not obvious to me but were easily resolved once I knew the support children needed. Simple tweaks often resolved issues that could have been detrimental to the children’s experience. Through collaboration, we tackled these challenges and supported the students with practices that met their needs—collaboration that wouldn’t have happened without the innovative “virtual check-in meetings.”

New tools available within The Creative Curriculum Cloud® helped me to encourage families to send documentation of the interactive writing lessons and share photos of the children engaged in learning opportunities, all of which provided meaningful insight that impacted my own reflection and subsequent teaching practices.

While the challenges facing teachers in the time of COVID-19 have at times seemed endless, teachers and families have risen to the occasion, tackling each situation with grace, courage, and, yes, a great deal of innovation and creativity.

We want to hear how you’ve been creative and innovative! Share with us in the comments below a reflection on when creativity and innovation promoted your own success.

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  1. I have been leading a distance learning program for a month so far and everyday I think of something new to try. My most recent endeavor is to engage children in outdoor experiences. I will be leading distance learning from outdoors once a week and also encouraging children to join me on a nature walk. We will do this through the use of our tablets and connecting on Zoom during the walk. We will share our observations together as we learn about trees.

    1. That is amazing, and sounds like so much fun! Way to think outside of the box, or in this case, the “walls” of your virtual classroom! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. For my kindergartners who had preschool, many of the preschool teachers used Flipgrid this past spring with success with teachers asking questions and having students respond. They are little snippets, but have provided a lot of getting to know you activities. I have asked kindergartners to count (keeping that flipgrid hidden to others), but we have also done an “All About Me” one with hopes for kindergarten as well as Halloween for those that celebrate.

    1. Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for reading and for sharing strategies that working for you! Sounds like you’ve gotten creative and innovative, and have had great success as a result.

  3. We are doing a tree study. I take my computer outdoors and the children watch me rake leaves, measure which tree trunk is larger and have a leaf fight with myself. They have been able to explore the movement of a sapling and the steadfastness of an older tree. I really want their parents to be ready to explore the outdoors around them.

    1. Hi Mary! Thank you for sharing your creative approach, and for modeling for families how to bring learning opportunities outdoors.

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