The Argument for Automation & Classroom Creativity

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By: Donn Smith

In a world where educators talk about the power of creativity in the classroom, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that automation—the very definition of which is meant to remove thought from the process—may do the most for freeing up the mind to find time to create. The American Psychological Association notes that the more time you have, the higher the chance of being creative.

But we’re busy people, right? According to the Brookings Institute, teachers work up to 55 hours per week. Activities range from curriculum planning, grading, attending staff meetings, convening with students before or after class hours, plus continuing education courses and more. In essence, there’s not enough time in any given day, or week, to get it all done.

In addition to these activities, teachers must ensure they are meeting state, federal and district curriculum guidelines and achieving test goals. A recent survey by Hanover Research found educators reported emotional exhaustion and burnout, with 41% of teachers leaving the profession within five years. Engagement levels among teachers were reported at their lowest levels since 1989, with only 44% of all teachers indicating they were very satisfied with their job as a teacher.

While teachers may crave time-saving solutions that help curb burnout, many also desire creative control over their curriculum—customization that allows for creative lesson plans rather than an off-the-shelf solution, which may be easier but may be less captivating for both teacher and pupil. Many teachers simply want more time in the day to think.

On the flip side, principals want assurances that their staff is maximizing their time and resources, while still meeting achievement goals and curriculum guidelines and helping students achieve their optimal performance.

How can everyone accomplish these goals? Automation makes it possible. Many edtech platforms claim to be the entire solution. But where does creativity come into the equation? Can automation and creativity co-exist?

The answer is yes, if your resource planning and management tools offer an integrated, singular system that provides not only an automated experience, but one that can be customized while retrieving lost time for educators.

What Makes a Flexible, Integrated System Maximized for Creativity?

So, what does it mean to have a flexible, integrated system? A flexible system allows educators to pull from a fully vetted resource library of thousands of educational resources that also happen to align with district, state and federal standards. Because standards can and do change, the system also must be adaptable and responsive to those periodic changes.

At the same time, a flexible, integrated system enables teachers to import personalized custom content, retaining the ability to be creative with their curriculum while ensuring that the curriculum meets those changing standards. This content can be mapped for the entire school year limiting the need to continually make updates to those lesson plans. In simplest terms: another time saver.

But beyond these advantages, such technology allows teachers to easily and seamlessly collaborate to ensure consistency across grade levels. Best practice sharing helps to maximize the student experience.

Most importantly, when it comes to ensuring student success, a system that includes automation can also show teachers how to close the gaps in MAP Growth assessments, with educational resources aligned within RIT ranges. This could lead to positive student outcomes and further help educators meet school and district goals.

What does this mean for creative teaching? Ultimately, many tedious activities can be automated, leaving more time to think, create and engage students. Greater engagement with creative work, in theory, leads to increased job satisfaction. And hopefully, that means those high burnout numbers start to decrease, leading to higher retention levels among our most creative educators.

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Donn Smith is the CEO of Curriculum Works, a first-of-its-kind cloud-based Educational Resource Planning and Management (ERPM) platform that integrates the processes of developing, deploying, accessing and managing vetted and standards-aligned curriculum within a single platform.  

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