Makerspaces are amazing places. Our students can learn all kinds of new skills. But it behooves us to learn some of those skills ourselves. You certainly don’t have to be an expert in all things to create a makerspace in your library. I couldn’t tell you a thing about how circuits or conductivity worked when I first started my makerspace in 2014. But as we added more tools and activities to our space, I learned with my students and tried out new things myself. Every time I plan a new project or program, I try it out myself and make some example projects. And I think this is essential for an effective makerspace program.
There are many, many reasons why we should become makers. These are just a few of the ways that becoming a maker can help you to better support your students.
Go through the design process
Have you ever gone through the design process yourself? Starting with a problem, brainstorming solutions, developing and testing prototypes? If you haven’t, you should try it at least once. Take a problem, like building something to hold your phone, creating a tool to keep headphones from tangling, brainstorming ways to reuse weeded books. Go through that process of designing a solution and take note of how you feel, how you could support students working through the same thing.
Develop empathy with your students
It can be hard for us to empathize with the experiences of our students if we don’t try to experience some of these things ourselves. Maker projects can be frustrating. We can get tired. It can seem like no solution is in sight. We could see others having success and want to give up. By becoming makers ourselves, we can better understand the frustrations our students go through when they hit a road block.
Learn alongside your students
Sometimes, we might get a new maker tool that I know hardly anything about. A new 3D printer, a circuit kit, etc. Rather than waiting to become an “expert” yourself with the new tool, learn how to use it alongside your students. Discover how things work. Go through the stumbling together. Let students see you being creative, making projects, and experiencing setbacks. You’ll all be the better for it.
Author: Diana Rendina
Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory, an independent 6-12 school. She was previously the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and learning space design and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace and is the author of Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.