I chose to interview a fellow teacher, Stephanie Buske, for this part of the Creative “I” project. Stephanie currently is a fifth grade teacher, but before getting her education degree, she went to drama school and spent time as a singer and actress off Broadway in New York City. Her husband is also an actor and both are heavily involved in the Madison, Wisconsin theater scene. Stephanie defines creativity as the ability to take a role, ignore it’s history and previous interpretations and make it uniquely yours. She says that she does this by trying to find the hook or the connection to the audience member or in her current situation – student. Steph’s creative process begins with the kernel – a book, a song, a museum exhibit – that she builds on. From that kernel, she explores the things that inherently make that thing interesting and uses her words, body and voice to bring that intangible quality to life. Stephanie also believes that the idea of creativity informs her life every day – as a teacher and mother. When people ask her if she is still acting, she tells them not on stage, but that she acts all day as a teacher – finding those kernels of interest and using her talents to light fires of inspiration within her students.
Dr. Mishra and his colleagues in the article (Mishra, Henriksen, & the Deep-Play Research Group, 2013) define creativity as being novel, effective and whole. In my interview, Stephanie also focuses on the idea of making something unique or novel to your interpretation. For me, that is my biggest struggle in being creative at work. So much of what I need to focus on such as data, standardized tests, and scripted curriculum do not give any room for novelty or uniqueness. It is hard for me to incorporate that component into my teaching when everything I do is trying to squeeze it out. Fortunately, I see a shift coming in my district. We have new members of the admin
istration team who are encouraging teachers to find that novelty and personal interpretation and bring it back into our teaching. I find I am at my most creative when I am allowed to have new experiences. I am lucky in that I live in an area where there are lots of cultural events, museums, and natural areas that allow me to broaden my perspective and indulge in creativity.
Mishra, P., Henriksen, D., & the Deep-Play Research Group (2013). A NEW approach to defining and measuring creativity. Tech Trends (57) 5, p. 5-13.