Taupaki School principal, Stephen Lethbridge explains how they implemented maker culture in their school and why it’s important to have involvement and support from the board and teachers. Stephen explains some of the barriers schools might face and what they can do to overcome them.
We as a staff came up with a vision. So my job as the principal is to make sure that the vision is fulfilled and that everyone in the organisation is going in the same way and that maker culture is fulfilling our vision statements around authentic learning, children learn best by doing, and that we’re using 21st century tools each and every day. So what’s really important for schools when they’re thinking about maker culture is making sure that it’s part of the vision, or that you can tie it to the vision and instrumental in that is making sure that the board of trustees are on board. So what we try to do is make sure that that our board are fully informed about current thinking in terms of education, what’s on the horizon. Whenever we head off to a conference we always take a couple of board members with us so that they hear the same message that teachers and leaders in schools hear and then when they come back we can talk about that at a board level and then what that might look like in schools.
When we’re thinking about maker culture implementation in the school, what we’ve got to realise as school leaders is that this is a huge mental model shift for teachers because a number of teachers are self-confessed technophobes and anything new, some teachers feel that they need to know before they try something with their kids. So what we’ve done to help teachers overcome those barriers, is to try and foster a mistake making culture where it’s okay to try something and fail miserably but then what are you going to do next time? In order to help teachers understand the possibilities of the technology that’s out there today, and I’m not just talking about a computer or a program, but the wider things like Arduino microcontrollers, things like MaKey MaKey interfaces, programming languages like Scratch and the Arduino interface, we need to expose teachers to it but not expect them to pick it up and do it straight away.
We’re like every other school in terms of teacher take up of any new initiative. We’re going to have people who start and they’re really enthusiastic, and then people who sit back and ponder and think, “Is this really, is this just something that we’re just reinventing again? We did this ages ago.” But I think, what’s important is that we don’t have a blanket approach to delivering something. We need to identify in our schools where people are at, and then provide relevant support so that teachers can learn their way through it, and implement their own learning journeys around maker culture.