Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Makerspace for Teachers

It is time to get back to school.  The summer is over and it is time to get back in the classroom.  As teachers walk into their rooms this year, I hope they view it as a makerspace and not simply a classroom.

As a coach, I am the first person to say that coaches do not "make" great athletes.  Spoiler alert, even if you sprint every day of your life and have perfect coaching, you will not be as fast as Usain Bolt.  There are some genetics going on their.

What a coach can do is move students toward their potential.  Becoming faster, stronger and performing better than the athlete originally thought possible.

The same applies to teachers.  They will not make an Albert Einstein, but they can help their students reach their potential, much like students in a makerspace learn to transform materials into some product that is useful and solves a problem.

So what tools are essential for teachers to transform their classrooms in a makerspace?  The nice thing is that when it comes to this innovation, it is not at the speed of a PR (purchase request).  These innovations are free and accessible.  We just need to choose to implement them.

Change your classroom into a makerspace

  1. Growth Mindset - being open to allowing students to be the experts in their areas of interest and supporting them to aligning and accelerating.
  2. Curriculum - it is not the end goal that students know all dates in US history or the products of chemical reactions.  The curriculum is a tool to get students to think.  Researchers would call it a lens or perspective or angle by which we attack a problem.
  3. Classroom layout - Where is the front of the room?  If students need to ask that question upon entering, then you know the focus is in the right area.  It is not what the teacher says, but what the students create.
Cost = Nothing

Teaching is Hard

When you walk into your classroom this year, challenge yourself to remember that you are not teaching algebra, science, history, or english, but that you are teaching students.  You are helping students learn to approach problems from historic, scientific, and data driven lenses and communicating the findings in a manner that is eloquent and coherent to people, understanding the points and counterpoints in the argument.

Coaches do not "make" great athletes, they move students toward their potential. 

Our makerspace, as teachers, is a lab where we help to engineer adults.  We help students reach their potential, become better than they thought.  So go to your makerspace this year and make amazing things.  When you reflect on your practice, reflect on both the degree to which the students learned the content and, the ever-important, underlying curriculum by asking yourself.  How have you helped your students move toward their potential? What can you do tomorrow to continue this work?