Start with the Teachers

Ts need to learn (or relearn) how to embrace messiness and making mistakes & learning from errors before they can support Ss in being makers

Photo of Jessica Lura
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Teacher credentials programs haven't traditionally taught teachers how to be makers and to have tinkering mindset nor how to deal with the unknown and ambiguity that can come with making. Starting with the end in mind when developing curriculum or project often leads to cookie cutter results--the antithesis of making. Many teachers are used to be THE expert in the classroom because they were taught that is what a teacher was.

Teachers (and administrators) need support in developing the mindsets necessary to allow themselves to take risks, make mistakes, and to learn before they can possibly support students as makers. I have seen situations where the teachers (and administrators) don't have that mindset but use words like "fail fast," "it's okay to make mistakes" and "we are doing a making project." And in all those cases, the teacher's expectations haven't changed. They still evaluate student process and student work off a traditional grading scale, they still expect a certain look to the project, and it's not really okay to make a mistake because there is no time for reflection and iteration. 

Schools can support teachers and all staff members by explicitly given them hands-on making experiences, helping them reflect on the process, and providing opportunities for them to become frustrated, to make mistakes, and to learn. This doesn't just need to teacher-based--ideally the entire staff would participate in building their creative confidence since the entire staff--custodians, office staff, school nurse, librarians, teachers, administrators, etc.--influence students' mindsets and learning environments. Ideally, in future iterations, parents would also be invited to participate and to build their own creative confidence and understanding about the importance of hands-on making in the lives of their children. 

Low barrier, low risk experiences are the best (Creative Confidence has a great section on overcoming phobias that works here), and teachers need multiple experiences to build up their confidence. Ideally, they would also have support in going off and doing similar activities with their students to build up their confidence in teaching hands-on making. Will this immediately translate into a full-blown MakerSpace a la Kevin Jarrett ? No, but the design challenge here is to inspire all students to be makers everyday. And for this to happen, all teachers and staff need to be on board and to embrace their creative confidence.

Staff Workshop (teachers, support staff, etc.)--90 minutes

(should be repeated to build creative confidence and likelihood of teacher bringing it back to the classroom)

Stoke/Improv activity(ies)--at least one on community building

Making/Tinkering Activity (I like to do ones that involve circuits because teachers seem to struggle with them)

Debrief and Reflection

  • What it felt like to do the activity
  • What did they learn about themselves through the activity
  • How might a similar activity be done in the classroom and why

Evaluation results

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Photo of PES Makerspace, The Parrots' Point, by: Laural McLean


Thank you for the encouragement.  Our Makerspace is currently doing paper mache pinatas.  If you could only see our classroom...LOL  But, the memories from the past and the new ones being made are priceless!  Take care, Laural

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