The Maker Movement: Supporting Teachers
The Maker Movement is, we admit, a buzz-worthy phrase, but it is a movement that has the power to truly transform education and learning. After President Obama hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire this summer, more schools are working to implement maker spaces in their own halls.
As exciting as this movement is for students across age and discipline, we cannot forget that educators must be prepared. “After all, enthusiasm for learning is trickle down.” Teachers need to be part of this new curriculum creation, which includes the ability to exercise their own creativity.
Heather Wolpert-Gawron, an award-winning middle school teacher, blogger, and author, wrote a post titled "Supporting the Teacher Maker Movement" for Edutopia.org. The article takes the format of an open letter to principals and other school administrators and in it Wolpert-Gawron outlines eight ways to support teachers:
- Identify those teachers who are interested in curriculum design, and ensure that they have your seal of approval to try. Make sure department chairs know that you are on board and encouraging this level of standards-based innovation.
- Be open to advocacy projects that focus on school site topics. The easiest units to start with begin in your own school site.
- Be present for the process. Be an authentic audience if they need you. It keeps you more present in their minds and you get to touch base with and be more in tune with student accomplishments.
- Have teachers communicate every step of the way. Make sure they can feel comfortable sharing what’s working and what’s not.
- Create a standards-based matrix that teachers can check off to help them keep their unit focused on the academics even while they design for their hearts. By providing the matrix yourself, you’ve taken something off of their plate and given yourself a tool to provide evidence of the learning from a data-driven standpoint.
- Ask if teachers who are experimenting will open up their classrooms for other teachers to come and observe what’s going on. The only way to spread a movement is to see it in action from those who are doing the teaching.
- Provide collaboration time. Don’t have the money to give more already? Then donate faculty-meeting time. Better yet, have an administrator substitute in a classroom to allow two teachers to meet during their preparation time. There are ways to give teachers the time they need to feel supported and be excited again.
- Encourage teachers to show their own personalities and design around their own interests. The best way to get a teacher on board is to allow them to be themselves in the school community. Interests can become teacher-created curriculum units if you encourage it and give teachers the support to create them.
Interested in learning more about the Maker Movement and its implications in education? Check out our newest white paper, "Understanding the Maker Movement." Click to the right to start reading!
Is your school embracing the Maker Movement? How can teachers be ready for a maker space? We'd love to hear from you--leave a comment!