Creative Reflections

SUNY Creativity Training at Fleming College

click on Les’s soul patch image to see more pictures!

If you happen to see some faculty walking around our campuses wearing jaunty berets and playing with Legos, fear not. There is a reason for it. 20(ish) Fleming Faculty members are taking part in a series of creativity workshops put on by the International Center for Studies in Creativity from the Buffalo State SUNY.

The first workshop included two days of Creative Problem Solving training and the second, a week later, involved a day of more in-depth training on strategies for embedding creativity into teaching.

We asked the participants to share their reflections by answering the following two questions:

  1. What was your favorite takeaway from the training?
  2. What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

Here is what they said:

Joseph Siracusa. Joe teaches in the CTN-CTY and WIN programs.

My favorite take away was understanding myself (Implementer) and how I think and understanding how others think (Clarifier, Developer , …). Understanding forces me to take a pause and not formulate an answer right away. There is always another way of doing things.

One thing I learned that I plan to use is to come up with interactive activities to re-enforce theories and concepts.`For example to demonstrate the use of vlans and how they reduce the size of a broadcast domain; have everybody together and say “hello”. Now split the large group into three groups and have each group say “hello”. The broadcast has now been reduced!!!!!

Terry Greene. Learning Technology Specialist

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

The divergent and convergent thinking model. It really helps you to know when to defer judgement and really be free with your ideas and then you also know when to be realistic about the ideas.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use?

They showed us a storyboarding exercise that helps you to plan for reaching your goals. You get a 6 or 8 panel sheet and start by drawing your starting point in panel one and end point in the last panel. Students then fill in the blanks in between. It being a creativity workshop you were free to be free thinking, so somehow mine involved a gondola and Huckleberry Finn. Despite (or maybe because of) those silly bits, I was able to really see some stepping stones to my goal.

Diana Collis. Diana teaches a variety of courses to the Paralegals and Law Clerks

At the risk of being repetitive I have to agree with Terry. The divergent and convergent thinking model will now be a “stop check” for me.

Story boarding linked to TIM is the other take away. Helped me think of ways to revive my delivery of material.

Les Smith. 

My favorite take away was Terry’s clear commitment to the world of Lego….No check that. My favorite take away was the formation of Challenge Statements. “How might we…?”

Obstacles and hurdles will always exist at Fleming and we find ourselves condemning innovative ideas before they start because of the process issues. A challenge statement, while acknowledging the issue, keeps a commitment to the great idea and the goal it is trying to achieve. It implies that there are always ways around the issue. I think Challenge Statements could become the cure for what is holding back the true innovative culture of Fleming.

Use in my teaching….?

I am going to use what I have learned to increase my students’ creativity in Corporate Social Responsibility. To make business a truly positive and sustainable force in the world will take creative young leaders. I will use the fundamentals from Gerard’s first introduction to us (though I can’t match his fluency) to motivate the students to embrace the creative problem solving lessons our friends from SUNY have taught us.

Jason Jackson. Jason teaches a whole bunch of things in the School of Trades & Tech.

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

Certainly anytime you can reflect on and evaluate your own style of teaching and learning it can provide true insight or foresight into your strengths and weaknesses. The creativity portion proved valuable in my understanding teaching and learning, but I found some very important leadership skills embedded through out the 3 days. Looking at things a different way, and creating dialogue with respect to how a question is asked and ultimately received can be used in many ways. I now want to push my limits as a creative mentor and use these concepts in being a better leader for students, school and family.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

The timing of the SUNY creative training and the LDS “bring your own device” workshops are going to allow me to push the boundaries in delivering very traditional trades courses. I plan on taking the room out of the classroom. Learning doesn’t have to static and stationary.

I have never been a person who wanted to analyze what I had completed. I now realize that should clarify the outcomes and take the time (or ask for time) to take the concept or task to the fullest potential both in leadership and creativity.

Kris Dawson. Kris teaches Human Resource type courses.

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

For me, it was the fact that we were able to come away with easy to use tools.  I find having the two booklets “Weaving Creativity…” and the “Foursight Tool Cards” are very handy to have as references.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I actually already used one of the tools: Brainwriting.  Will plan to use many of these tools in my teaching.  Thinking next week I’ll use the forced connections one…I have used in the past and I forgot how useful it is.

Thanks for bringing creativity into our worlds at Fleming…I hope to see it spread!

Aaron Lishman. Aaron coordinates and teaches in the Electrical Engineering Technology and Electrical Techniques programs.

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

I learned a lot from this workshop – Divergent thinking, tools for breaking through blockages when solving complex problems, creating a climate for creativity, using unrelated objects to make unexpected connections. All very enlightening, I have already found myself using some of these tools in my creative life outside the College.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I plan on discussing with my classrooms the importance of creative problem solving,  and using the TIM method for several exercises in alternative energy lectures, to make them more interactive and interesting. This workshop will stick with me, and will be part of all future course material that I have a hand in developing.

The SUNY Creativity Workshop was held downtown Peterborough at The Innovation Cluster

Helen Bajorek-MacDonald. Communications and College Health Science Faculty

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

Wow!  What an energetic, enthusiastic and generous group of creative practitioners!

A key takeaway from the training is the supportive collaborative work undertaken with peers from a range of schools and disciplines, and which energy and support I know will remain for the months to come.  I left our sessions with many workable ideas that will support my objective to integrate creative problem-solving in a course that I am presently redeveloping:  Professional Issues in Health Science.

In other words, we put into active practice the idea that “creativity is the production of original ideas that are valuable”.

Did I leave the training with original ideas that are valuable? You bet!

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I plan to introduce students to the practice of working with creative tensions.

We often avoid tension (and conflict), but what if students developed skills that help them to recognize, understand, and utilize tension as a creative opportunity for problem-solving? And what if students could see how the skills could be transferred to real-life problem-solving, as well as be effective when faced with challenges in the workplace?

Why is this important for our students?  The Conference Board of Canada has identified a low level of problem-solving skills among adult workers, especially in technology-rich environments.  These skills are no less important than literacy and numeracy competencies.

Our students need to be able to problem-solve in fields where, increasingly, they will “use digital technology, communication tools, and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others, and perform practical tasks” (Conference Board of Canada, 2014). I want to provide my students some skills for their problem-solving toolkits.

Rogier ten Kate. Corporate Social Responsibility

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

I really enjoyed the TIM Creative Model Lesson plan. I am usually not much of a planner in this way since I love some form of controlled chaos in the classroom, that can and sometimes exist organically. With the TIM’s plan it makes me actually think about how to approach the students and how to engage them even more in and outside the classroom. Heightening their Anticipation and Deepening their Expectation (using Divergent and convergent techniques) and Extending the learning. Letting them leave the classroom with a thought or small assignment.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

 As I just mentioned the TIM CML, I will for sure apply and use in various courses and classes. I am already trying to create little ideas to heighten students anticipation for next seminar and or lecture class. And I will try to build something at the end of every class that will leave them with a thought or little mind teaser.

Great experience overall and great way to get me looking at my own teaching style and improve and learn from how I can do things differently.

Devon Code. Professor, School of General Arts & Sciences

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

My favourite takeaway is my new understanding of the four steps of the creative process, my understanding of my personal preferences with regard to this process, and the tools I was given for trying new approaches at each step.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I plan to use the divergent /convergent thinking model when I get students to generate ideas for writing assignments. I typically have students brainstorm for assignments, but this model provides an easy-to-understand theoretical framework that demonstrates how good brainstorming works and shows how sometimes the most innovative ideas come late in the ideation process.

Ainsley Geddes

What was your favorite takeaway from the training?

Learning that we all have creative abilities and becoming more aware and confident with my creativeness. Exposure to the importance of creativity in the workforce and the degree to which it is a sought after skill by employers. The freedom of divergent thinking and the importance to separate this process with the convergent process

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I learned so many things that I plan to use in my teaching and it is hard to pick just one. The greatest challenge I see and look forward to tackling with my new found insight and knowledge is implementing creative problem-solving exercises into lecture and labs in trades courses that are tightly (and justly) governed by codes and regimented practices. I also look forward to brainstorming with all of you!!

Amanda Rochon. Biotechnology – Advanced (Forensics)

I am sorry this coming so late, I have been enjoying the Mobile Summit and have also been looking at how all these tools that I’m learning about fit in with a lot of the things we talked about over our three days and also what you have each been writing about.

Based on everything that everyone has already said, I am not sure I could provide anything different or unique with respect to the takeaways, but I would certainly echo what everyone has already stated/explained so eloquently!

Something I will use in my teaching:

The TIM that I created in Level 2 training is something I want to incorporate in my seminars in fourth semester to try and get more student engagement and buy-in, especially when it’s their own ideas. And the use of curiosity in the plan I created for the assignments I’ve had difficulty with in that same course. The foursight preferences, tool deck, and divergent and convergent thinking are things I want to incorporate into my courses and teach students about.

To end with, I want to urge each of you (as go-getters) to check out nearpod ( It is very similar to power point (you can even feed your power point slides into it) but it offers so much more (you can embed things in it, like wordgarden and and many other things) – easier to explain in person. There’s a free version, but only 30 students can access it (would work for small seminars but not lectures with more than 30). Or you get the paid version for $120/year. What would be ideal would be a site license (the more you pay, the more features you get). It’s just a tool that takes the traditional power point to a higher level and makes it more engaging and interactive for the students. Also, check out quizlet (if you don’t already know what it is) and quizletlive which is collaborative quiz taking – so many cool tools!!!

I can share (easier to talk in person about this) with anyone who is interested, just let me know!!

Albert Mastromartino. Albert teaches a variety of courses in the School of Business

Favorite take-away? Really? Just one?

I was taken by the FourSight tool, that categorizes an individual’s personality traits and problem-solving tendencies into one of four profiles (Clarifier, Ideator, Developer, and Implementer). As much as I’ve always believed that diversity makes for better outcomes, it is deceptively easy, as human beings, for us to conveniently gravitate to the comfort of like-minded people. One of our hands-on exercises made me “taste” the dangerous consequences of giving in to such. My teammates and I (all sharing the same FourSight profile) were surprised at the uninspired experience we felt when isolated from people possessing other profile traits in a problem-solving exercise. The outcome: the experience itself felt unfulfilling to us all and the actual solution to our assigned problem turned out mediocre at best. My take-away: only the strong and balanced contributions of all (Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and Implementers) together, can produce truly innovative progress and competitiveness.

What is one thing you learned that you plan to use in your teaching?

I like the idea of preemptively stoking the curiosity of my students more, to secure further engagement. One thing I will start implementing immediately is the idea of more props, cues, and materials to build class excitement and curiosity.

I am sure that if you have any questions for anyone about what they learned, they would be happy to chat about it. Send them an email!