Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Does A Makerspace Die? #MakerEd #ImAMaker

Since my book came out, I've had the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the world about Making and Makerspaces. I found myself saying something over and over again when asked about creating spaces in their schools or classrooms.

"Makerspaces will die if the culture of Making is not there."

Building a space in a classroom or library is awesome, but students need to understand what is possible in these spaces. Teachers need to know what they are capable of doing with access to a Makerspace. Administrators need to know what they can do with PD now that a Makerspace is available.

Making is a culture. It is an awesome inclusive culture. All are welcome to Make and try new and crazy things. This is a culture that needs to be supported in all levels of education. District admin need to support building admins that are looking to try new things and support student growth and student focused ideas. Building admins need to let their teachers know that it is ok to take risks in the classroom and to try new things that allow more student freedom and self expression in the classroom. Teachers need to create lessons that give students the opportunity for my choice and ownership in their learning. When all of these things happen, you will see a culture of Making take over the school and a Makerspace thrive.

Just putting in a space with fancy gadgets and labeling it a Makerspace is set up to fail. Teachers that are passionate about the space need to receive support from admins to keep the idea going. This will allow them to connect with other teachers and bring them into the fold. The more teachers that are planning on using the Makerspace, more students will interact with the space and seek it out on their own. Without support, Makerspaces die and money is wasted. Sometimes, it is important to just let teachers go and create amazing things and trust them to do a good job. Micromanaging never works. The same is true for teaches as well. The more that we try to micromanage student assignments or projects, the less invested they are in the final product and the sense of ownership vanishes.

Learning about Makerspaces is the first step in creating one,  but the long term goal needs to be creating the culture of Making in the school and trusting admins, teachers, and students to create the best space possible for all learners.