This qualitative study is an investigation of these creativity and trans-disciplinary thinking among highly accomplished teachers. Specifically, in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals who have either received, or been a national finalist for the National Teacher of the Year award. These teachers have been noted as successful in the classroom, and the purpose of this study was to examine how these teachers define creativity, and how they function creatively in the classroom. This research also considers how artistic interests and avocations inspire creative ideas, and the ways that this connects to creative thinking skills (trans-disciplinary thinking skills).
Findings of this study noted that while creativity has some generalizable elements, these are instantiated and evaluated according to context. In terms of how this creativity plays out in successful teaching practice, key themes included real-world teaching and learning, cross-curricular connections, and taking intellectual risks. It was also noted that accomplished teachers engage in a variety of avocations and creative pursuits in their personal lives; and that this creatively influences their teaching practices. Teachers frequently noted that “we teach who we are,” and it seems that those who engage creatively outside of teaching are able to usefully draw on this in their teaching practice. Finally, this study found that trans-disciplinary skills are highly valuable and frequently used in the practices of successful and accomplished teachers. All of the teachers in the study provided specific examples and discussion of how played out in different ways in their classrooms and teaching practice.