Every parent and teacher wants to develop the skills in children that will prepare them for the careers of the future, many of which haven't been created. But they don't know how. And that is OK as long as we have leaders in place that can model a growth mindset for them. Administrators are the formal leaders of our schools. And who best to lead the charge.
What Administrators Can Do
* Host Maker Faire Type Professional Developments - Our Division Heads (Principals) alloted 3 hours during our professional development day to promote Making! They provided low res materials like cardboard, post-it notes, pipe cleaners, zip ties, markers and paper. Or you can sponsor a Solder-Off and use Makey Robot Learn to Solder Skill Badge Kits. Dylan Ryder does this with our students in the Intermediate Division.
*Make room in the schedule for Making -- this one is a little challenging but administrators can show a school's commitment by making room in the schedule for Making.
*Finding unique Professional Development opportunities and identifying early adapters - In New York City, Marymount School has wonderful free opportunities to visit their Fab Lab. That's an example of the kinds of workshops our school sends us too. It requires an administrator to provide the resources for teachers to go - substitute teachers and permission to miss the time in class.
*Support teachers who are doing unique things in the classroom by saying YES AND.......!
*Engage parents by having periodical opportunities to Make with their children. It can be as simple as a parent share in the classroom or a parent curriculum activity afterschool. You can define it.
Teachers are the gateway to the mission of the school. Students will see behaviors that promote the mission from the teacher first. And if you elicit enough excitement, students will go home and tell their parents.
What Can Teachers Do
*Make room in your schedule for Making- Our Kindergarten teachers, Karlyn Adler and Inez Gonzalez added a Making time in her schedule using scraps left over from the week's work. Students have a show and tell afterwords where each child identifies one problem they had during the process and how they solved it (TAPE was a HUGE discovery).
*Allow students to use all kinds of tools - Shop class has all but disappeared and we need it more than ever. A razor saw in 2nd grade! Bring it on! Solder in 3rd -- Ughhh YEAH! With proper training and safety methods in place, children can BUILD anything. And they will learn all the Mathematics that goes along with it... Measurement, anyone?
*Teach Social Emotional Learning (SEL) - There is a social emotional component to Making and you have to prepare students to deal with frustration, collaboration, and disappointment. Let them know it is perfectly normal to make mistakes or even fail at the task at hand. Giving them the language to identify the emotion and the appropriate response will give your students life long skills towards being successful.
*Send home simple Maker/DIY suggested homework that includes using every day or found objects. Hand puppets made out of shoe boxes anyone? Send home you tube and websites that promote learning during off times and vacations. These suggestions will go a long way if Little Johnny is pestering mommy and daddy to complete this shared activity.
Finally, in every instance it is completely ok if you do it before you are ready. Emily Pilloton and Christina Jenkins of Project H Design espouse this ideal at their UnPD workshops. In my practice, I often leap in front of my students. I explain that I didn't get to go to this school so I have to keep learning all the time. They find it confidence boosting that I don't own the knowledge and I am learning right along with them. I try their ideas out and I let them know if I make mistakes along the way. Nothing makes a 7 year old feel more relieved then saying "OMG! I make THAT mistake ALL THE TIME." Or better yet "You know how I know how to solve this? It's because I make THAT mistake ALL THE TIME."