Feb 09

Gaining Support for Your Makerspace

The idea to start a makerspace in my school wasn’t my idea. The groundwork began before I was hired. I feel my willingness to help grow the idea and my knowledge of and connections to makerspaces in other schools was an added bonus when I joined other educators to keep the ball rolling. When you want to introduce an idea that can lead to a culture shift in a classroom, school library, or building, you cannot do it alone. Gaining supporters along the way, getting buy-in, and educating others along the way is critical.

There are a number of groups that you need to educate along the way. Our district leadership team was the first step. Fortunately, some were involved with the idea from the beginning and others were supportive soon after. That is not always the case. We did, however, need to put together a plan that included our vision, rationale, and timeline for the implementation of the makerspace. I work with some very talented and smart educators. Putting together our plan could have been more difficult if this wasn’t the case, but for us, the process went rather smoothly.

After our plan was shared with the district leadership team, it was time to proceed to the Board of our Educational Foundation. These were the people we were hoping would fund the idea. I’m really not sure what we would have done as a Plan B if they said no. Regardless, our presentation to this group went well and they were on board. The next step, and arguably the most important, was to share the plan with the school staff.

We were given time at a staff meeting to share our plan. Not just a few minutes, but the entire meeting. I believe this showed support from the principal and stressed to the staff the importance of what we were doing. Prior to the meeting, we put a few Keva Planks, Legos, and Little Bits pieces on the tables for teachers to play with. We wanted them to tinker while we talked. We wanted them to experience a few of the items we had in store for the students. We went through our presentation, tweaking it a little for this audience. There weren’t as many questions as I expected. One of the reasons, perhaps, is that we were prepared for what might be asked and tried to do our best to address those concerns in the presentation. This was the third time we shared the plan with a group, streamlining and preparing the message. Overall, I felt the staff was on board with the idea. If they weren’t, they weren’t showing it.

Changing a mindset in a school is not an easy thing. A consistent message needs to be shared with all of the stakeholders. I feel we’ve done a good job communicating the message of what we’re doing and why. We’ve put together a website with resources, have a blog sharing student work, and are sharing ideas via social media. We are just beginning, but we feel we are taking the steps needed to make this a success.