PD and apprenticeship

The typical model for teachers to get additional training is to send them to a workshop. The teachers sit in rows, and listen to a single person’s or sometimes a group, for few hours. Each teacher walks away with one or two small ideas that might change their teaching practice, or might not. These changes will usually be small, and may not survive the school year. It is expensive, terms of travel and teaching time: a substitute needs to be hired, travel expenses need to be paid, and your school may not get what they need from the training.

When the success or failure of a MakerSpace is on the line (often with tens of thousands of dollars invested in tools, equipment, and space) professional development is a real gamble. There’s a very good chance that you won’t get the skills you need to run your MakerSpace effectively; or that the skills your teachers learn won’t be flexible to the equipment and tools that you have; or that you will get a one-trick pony, that can only do one thing.

Here’s why: teachers are experts in their chosen field, whether that be history or early childhood education, math or library science. But there is a very good chance, study suggest better-than-average, that your teachers don’t Make anything. They do not know how, or they know but do not want to. The ones who do make things, treat the Making that they do, as a hobby or as something that belongs to “outside-school” time, and they don’t want to cross the streams of hobby and profession.

For teachers — and just about everyone else — Making requires apprenticeship. All of our first efforts are bad. Pick the wrong wood, or the wrong color paint, or the wrong kind of plastic for the 3-D printer. We make the rookie mistakes — we did for a few years, ourselves. A third grader does not care that their work is “bad “, but a teacher (almost any adult, really) does. And the teacher is often afraid that their work will look bad to a student.

Everyone has a first year of teaching; everyone knows that the first year is the worst of your career.  Consciously or unconsciously, most teachers know that learning to be a maker will be like their first year of teaching all over again. A one-day workshop will not help; a better solution is daily or weekly guided instruction from someone who has already made some of the mistakes.  A model of master-and-apprentices, and the gradual introduction of journeymen and journey-women into the system, stands a much better chance of success than a single person in the artisan’s shop.

We can provide a range of options from one-on-one consulting and coaching, to regularly-scheduled workshops for your faculty over the course of the year. Contact us: we can help you.

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