When the TCEA PD staff were asked last spring, “Who wants to take on training on makerspaces?” my hand shot up instantly. No hesitation, no thought process on my part. You see, I’ve always been a maker. BUT, in my 40+ years of making, I have never been called a Maker. I am a crocheter, baker, robotics teacher, costume designer, crafter, latch rug hooker, gardener, woodworker, and the list goes on. The world has always called my making very specific titles, but now they fall under the BIG making umbrella.
For the past six months, I have been busy ordering equipment, gleaning information from Twitter, and developing the TCEA way of making. We have held two full days of TCEA Makers workshops at the Austin headquarters, had a Maker Playground pre-conference workshop at both summer Tots conferences, and I have stuffed my Toyota Prius and hit the road with maker equipment and materials for onsite training in school districts.
The TCEA Makers is a full day of creating, formulating the maker-edu connection, and enjoying the maker atmosphere. This is the place to try out new technologies, find out what you will and won’t take back to your campus, and jumpstart your path to shaping your edu makerspace. The day always wraps up with a two-question survey.
- What was the best part of your experience?
- How can we improve TCEA Makers for future attendees?
Honing the best experience possible, these comments are taken very seriously. I have learned that everyone has a strong opinion when it comes to making. So what better way to talk about makerspaces then by using the comments provided by our makers? Here are just a few:
“Trial and error” Isn’t this what learning is all about? Making provides our students the opportunity to try, fail, and succeed. Call this perseverance, grit, or stick-to-itiveness, but if you want something in life, you have to have the courage to make it and the resolve to get it done.
“Making things with my hands and bonding with my coworkers!” Work is a happy place if you develop a personal connection with your colleagues.
“I loved the hands-on activities and the collaboration with others.” Every national and state standards list has collaboration as an essential skill. So yes, students will join forces to work out a problem and come together to solve an issue.
“Getting to try out new things.” Unwrapping a gift, buying a ticket and traveling, setting out on a new adventure always sparks new brain waves and creates energy for all. Making something new is the same kind of charge.
“Some of MakerSpaces lacked direction. If I had trouble figuring out how to get started, I imagine students would have trouble.” In Tony Wagner’s book “The Global Achievement Gap,” he writes about the seven survival skills that our children need. The first skill is critical thinking and problem solving. This means our students need the ability to figure things out, because their boss is not going to tell them exactly what to do. We as educators should not provide all the answers. I ask my makers, if the directions are not there, what can you do? We should not always hand out the answers; we need to teach our students the ability to track down the answer. So where can you find the answers, try:
- A YouTube video
- A fellow maker
- Skype an expert
Technology provides us the ability to find the answers like no other time in history.
“This was the best PD I’ve ever been to!”
“Loved this day. Best first day back ever.”
I definitely cherish the two statements above from the surveys. But why would people say this? Take it from the TCEA Makers, the day of learning provided…
- “Got the creative juices flowing”
- “Discover new possibilities for my class”
- “Opportunity to learn and share successes”
- “Relish the making process with my colleagues”
- “I failed, but I got back on the horse and gave it another go”
- “Freedom to roam with a flexible schedule and lots of choice”
Interested in getting your hands on the making experience? The next TCEA Makers is Friday, September 23, 2016. Register here.
Featured Image: Photo by author