Classroom Teacher Engagement

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me, as a STEAM specialist, has been the keeping making alive when my students leave the lab. I make a very intentional effort to collaborate with teachers, to learn what students are doing in their regular elementary classrooms and integrate this into lessons and projects in the lab. However, often, this relationship is not reciprocal. In an effort to get more teachers incorporating Making into their daily routine I’ve tried a few strategies this year, that seem to be helping. However, without having a specialized coach, whose time is dedicated to going around to individual classrooms and meeting with teachers, this process can be difficult. What ways have you found to be most helpful in sharing the Making Mentality throughout your school or program?

 

Here are a few ideas I’ve tried this year:

 

  • After School Making Party– Getting teachers to attend an after-hours event sometimes means meeting your audience. My audience happens to be one drawn to Pinterest. So, we had a Pinterest Party. There were several projects inspired from Pinterest with materials for them to create. One of the projects, purposely required the use of a Cameo, because none of my teachers knew what it was or how to use it prior to the party. My idea is to slowly incorporate more “lessons” in these events. Perhaps next is a Valentine Card Making Party, with one option being paper circuits. In the end, teachers left feeling engaged, they learned where materials were in the lab, what different machines do, and seemed curious about how they could bring more making projects to their own students.

 

  • Lab Tours– During a staff meeting we broke out into various sessions and I held a lab tour. I showed practically every tool, briefly explained how it worked and showed examples of student creations that used that tool or machine. I had them open up every cupboard, drawer, and peak into every shelf. I wanted them to see all the materials they, as teachers, and their students had access to. I encouraged them to use the space with or without me, depending on their comfort level.

 

  • Making Cohort/Book Club- My school has a staff meeting monthly around a specific topic we proposed in the beginning of the year. Typically there are 4-5 groups/topics to select from. Teachers choose which topic they want to further investigate and a cohort is formed for the year. I am leading a Making group (and proudly, I must say, more than half of the teachers are in this group). We are reading Meaningful Making and discussing it as a traditional book club might do. Teachers are also creating their own Making Projects they want to do with their students and I’m here to support them through the process.