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Creative Staffroom to Creative Community

Turn the staffroom into a centre for creative thinking, staff meetings into solution sessions and the school into a focus for creative community!

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As classrooms become more creative places so too should staffrooms, particularly collective ones. In fact this concept argues that they (creative staffrooms) might sometimes precede or at least be developed coincidentally with creative classrooms. Furthermore, the tools, techniques and methodologies taught and applied in the creative classroom should be shared theoretically and practically in the staffroom.
Young (and older) people (Including of course teachers) are innately creative but there are some suggestions that education systems suppress this. Making such suggestions is to use a broad tar brush and initiatives like this current OpenIDEO challenge are far more helpful and hopeful in outlook.
Young people also respond to influence: certainly at the family level and the peer level but also from teachers (at all educational levels).
The premise of this idea is that inspiring and fostering creative confidence in teachers can be a catalyst for osmotic inspiration of creative confidence in the young people they influence and indeed in the wider community with which they interact.
Bea Z puts it more elegantly and succinctly in her Teaching Parents Creative Confidence concept "creating opportunities for adults to learn about creative confidence is they can model the behavior with their own kids and/or students"

How might it work? Here are some suggestions.
Staffrooms and staff meetings are often naturally fairly creative places and processes anyway, but they can be destructive too: so maximise the former and minimise the latter by creatively stirring the pot.

Introduce some structured creativity to the staff room and to staff meetings:

  • Challenge the staff/faculty to develop a culture of creativity and unity –

one person / one staff / one school – but perhaps subtly and pervasively rather than brazenly;

  • Create a special noticeboard (or devote a part of the existing noticeboard physical and electronic) to
    >> Post challenges (incidental or momentous) to be solved and space for ideation – start small and when necessary spread it out onto the walls -
    >>>What purpose do the noticeboards serve and what do they look like?
  • Develop a creativity corner devoted to a range of creativity tools and techniques, books and resources
  • Introduce a creative segment to staff meetings – start with once a month (two or three per semester) but aim for once a week;
  • Make it virtual as well as real utilising the staff area of the school website, creating a private Google+community, using Facebook, LinkedIn – whatever tools are available and appropriate;
  • Extend the reach – :involve parent teacher organisations and selectively open the virtual space, involve the student leadership and develop partnerships, give these partnerships a presence and voice in the wider community, encourage similar initiatives in feeder schools and peerage schools, partner with community organisations and interact with business;
    >>>an example from California College of the Arts and IDEO it doesn't have to be this big but maybe school community discussing space re-purposing.
  • Be inclusive and handle failuresensitively and positively.

There are many roles in a creative community – it is not just about those with the ideas!

Develop flexible methodologies – ones that work for your school/faculty – document them and enculturate them but always be open to change.

Above all – have fun doing it!

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

If possible involve family, friends and wider networks by exposing them to the idea and asking for input. Ask questions like – Tell me about something like this that is already happening: how could it be duplicated, improved, expanded and proliferated? What is missing and how can missing elements be incorporated? What is redundant and why?

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

Life is a continuum and, for society is cyclical. Seeding the community with the notions that creativity is innate, there to be fostered and developed is a start. This idea does not exist apart from other ideas for inspiring creative confidence so much as forming one possible element in a suite of ideas. Neither is it an idea that can be imposed – it can only be broadcast, perhaps embraced, certainly changed and modified for circumstance. It is not something to be controlled – only offered.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

The idea is at present somewhat insubstantial. Help is definitely needed from the wider OpenIDEO community to synthesise and document it. Can we develop a toolkit out of it and what should it contain? Are infographics appropriate and what would they look like? Should there be a website and what would that look like? How should this blend with or even be absorbed by similar concepts? How does it mesh or interact with other related concepts, what are they and what will its collaboration map look like?


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Photo of DeletedUser


I agree with the idea that creativity is often suppressed by "traditional" educational systems, and that we need to provide parents and educators with the skills to promoting creativity and a child's confidence. Do you have any specific examples of how you then take the exercises that are performed in the staff rooms, and bring them to the children. I feel this is still very abstract concept. Thanks!

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks for your contribution Susan. You are right that there is a level of abstraction to this concept which is why I have asked questions of the OpenIDEO community for how to progress this.
There are two levels to the concept which I shall attempt to address as it is refined.

1. There are several stylised/systematic approaches to encouraging creative problem solving (one aspect of developing creative confidence) - the most relevant in the present context is probably the IDEO Educators Toolkit which is a classroom level resource;

2. Teachers need to imbue their classroom practice with creativity and applying design thinking practice (as a creative approach) to even mundane issues is productive. Bringing design thinking practice to the staffroom would enhance this.

IDEO's HCD Toolkit is a broadly applicable resource which would serve to establish a practical methodology.
Do you think a "Teachers Toolkit" might be developed?
Should it offer alternative methodologies (there are many now offered in the business marketplace)?

As I am not a school teacher I don't have a representative sample of issues that might arise in the staffroom and can be approached creatively but two of concern to the general community are bullying and littering.
Would these make good issues to resolve creatively? In the staffroom? In the classroom? As a school?

I am of the opinion that teachers as community leaders and role models can demonstrate systematic creativity as well as teach it and by both means give young people permission to apply it in their own lives.

Photo of DeletedUser


Hi Paul,

You may be interested in taking a look at this Teachers Toolkit which was developed through a grant from the US Department of Education, as an aid in helping teachers plan interactive lessons for children.
Perhaps you could build from this toolkit. It offers brainstorming techniques, reward scenarios, and teamwork strategies.

I have several friends who are teachers, and one particular challenge they often face is when english is a second language for a child. Although many schools have "reading recovery" programs that help a child in this situation, perhaps we can have a toolkit for the other students who do not have difficulty with english. This toolkit would be a way of teaching empathy - without using the word "empathy". Perhaps the toolkit is a "Culture Toolkit" that teaches the children about different cultures of students in the classroom.

When I was a kid, we had a week long lesson on Hawaii, and at the end of the week, we held a luau. Each child was responsible for bringing a food or artifact that represented what we had learned about Hawaii. It taught us fun facts about another culture, and because we helped plan the party, it helped inspire our creative confidence. Culture Toolkit.

Hope you'll find my thoughts interesting. :)


Photo of Paul Reader

Thank you Susan this is indeed a valuable link for teaching resources and has given me some ideas for giving teachers ways of creatively interacting with one another to act as role models for their students.

Photo of DeletedUser


Paul, glad I could help out. I found The Teacher's Toolkit site to be very thorough with it's description on techniques and follow-through on the behalf of teachers. I'll continue to think on this.

Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks Susan,
While some of the toolkit elements are clearly most applicable to the classroom a number of them would be equally applicable for adult problem solving. Would you perhaps like to pass on the toolkit links to Saskia for consideration as elements or complementary resources for her Enablers Toolkit

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