Many teachers struggle with implementing and fostering creativity within students and I personally fall into this category. In my own clinical practice classroom students are rarely asked or prompted to use their imagination to critically think. Although the students sparingly engage in creativity, it does take place sometimes during activities where my cooperating teacher allows them to have "free choice." Free choice can range anywhere from performing a unique sequence of patterns on the plyometric ladders or during hoola-hoop activities where students can practice their favorite trick rather than just hoola-hooping around their waists. This allows students to explore different movement concepts while learning about their bodies during physical activity. By allowing students to foster their own creativity it helps them learn critical thinking skills which are essential when understanding the big picture.
Critical thinking and problem solving are essential for scaffolding and gaining true understanding of the content being presented. In my clinical -practice classroom, students engage in critical thinking and problem solving during demonstrations and the closure through checking for understanding. My cooperating teacher usually asks open-ended questions that make students think, rather than asking questions that have a straight yes or no answer. I think a great way to extend critical thinking in my classroom is to have students reflect more on their own learning process which will allow them to make more connections throughout the unit being taught. This can be done with self-assessments or a think/pair/share where students reflect on their performance as well as participation and collaboration within group settings. Students in my class are given several opportunities to collaborate with their peers because almost every lesson is designed for students to be working with a partner. Because my class is already used to working with a partner, I can provide more opportunities to allow them to work on their critical thinking skills collaboratively.
Although my students work mostly with partners and groups, it is also important that I teach students to work independently where they become self-directed learners. In physical education it is hard to observe each student and provide positive-corrective feedback to everyone when there is such a limited amount of time. I have noticed during my teaching that I provide detailed demonstrations and instruction and then my students go out and practice independently. Although I cannot get to every student, it does provide them the opportunity to be self-directed while staying on task and practicing the skill. I initially guide the learning through explanation and demonstration, but the students are responsible for noticing their common errors and trying to correct their skill performance to be more successful. Overall, implementing creativity, critical thinking, and independence can be hard as a teacher, but it is important that we take the extra time to plan in order to give our students the best possible education.