MakerSpace: The Journey Begins
I tweeted. Yep, I’ve had a class Twitter account for over 4 years, and I have done pretty much zero with it. Never saw a point. No need to keep up with the celebrity gossip that fills the twitterverse. It was was by all accounts, worthless to me. Then they hired The Weird Teacher, no, seriously, he likes being called that. The Weird Teacher (@theweirdteacher), blue hair, no chairs in his classroom, and he lowered all the desks in his room. I stumbled upon his twitter account and started reading. He had twitter chats with strangers, no…not strangers…these were actually other teachers! Teachers located all around the states, even the world! All coming together to talk about education, technology, and teaching! A collection of like-minded people all sharing ideas and supporting one another. It opened my eyes, and I slowly began to log into my dusty twitter account. I began making connections and having professional development conversations that I truly enjoy. That was basically four weeks ago. Then I tweeted.
— The Gecko Team (@teamgecko) October 3, 2015
And I sat back, and waited. 30 seconds, a reply….and then the flood gates opened up. People from all over the twitterverse began posting and sharing ideas. How a MakerSpace looks in their schools, projects that kids have created, photos, videos, excited kids who actually were exploring the world around them through hands on projects and joy. Kids, joy, learning….that’s what I saw in these tweets. It was incredible and inspiring, and I needed more.
So formed a partnership with Doug (@theweirdteacher) to get a MakerSpace off the ground at Powell Valley Elementary school.
I sent an email to my principal saying…here, check out this really cool video from a principal in Minnesota, Dr. Brad Gustafson (@GustafsonBrad) who showcased how his students, teachers and staff were transforming his school into an entire MakerSpace environment. I loved his quote…”It’s not about the carts, it’s about the kids!” Exactly! Kids need this type of teaching and it’s been lacking in education for the past decade of education reforms. The idea of going back to the future with the idea of project / passion-based learning was just not going to happen in this day and age of public school. There were too many set agendas, curriculum checks, observations, etc that would get in the way of this idea. And then something amazing happened…
Everyone jumped on board. I mean, everyone. I was asked by our principal to present to barebone idea to our school site council a week later, and the parents were beyond excited. They immediately jumped on board with ideas for fund raising. Doug and I then presented the MakerSpace to the Parent Teacher Club after school last week and the intensity turned up even more. The PTC board was all ears and loving what we were talking about. They began talking about funds that could be earmarked for the space. They loved the idea, and the energy in the room was electric. Later our principal would tell us that this was the most excited that she had seen the parents outside of the Community Christmas event (it’s a big deal at our school).
Later that week we met for our first MakerSpace committee meeting out in the classroom that we will be turning into the MakerSpace. We talked about room issues, budgeting, implementation phases, donations, and so much more. One of the difficulties has been to catch this lightning and find the correct path to make it a reality. But every turn we’ve taken has led to acceptance, excitement and the return of teaching with passion and joy. No it’s not a new idea, but it sure is one that had been suppressed for a long time.
Last Friday we had another quick meeting where our principal revealed that she had added the MakerSpace to our school improvement plan, and had shown the ideas off to the district superintendent and the school board members who were at her meeting. Again, the idea was met with excitement.
Tomorrow Doug and I will be presenting the idea to the school staff and getting them on board with the planning of the space and materials we would love to have. I was apprehensive, but now all I can think is…where will this lead us next. More to come as the MakerSpace journey begins.