Back in 2015, when I started really digging into makerspace, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Makerspace Operations Bootcamp, through Makerworks. The training was 5-days, intensive, and really, really good. I walked away with a much more comprehensive knowledge of all things makerspace, and I got to play with some really cool machinery, too. One of the messages conveyed through the training was to make it easier for your makers to do the right thing (rather than the wrong thing).
Difficulty Doing the Right Thing
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that message. In particular, all the hurdles that make it difficult to do the right thing. I see these everywhere. From confusing directions, to blocked educational websites, to too many steps needed to complete tasks. We make both students and educators jump through hoop after hoop in order to get where we want them to go. This causes frustration. It makes everything more difficult than it needs to be. It needs to stop. I would even argue that this is one (of several) factors causing the highest rate on record of teachers quitting their jobs in public schools across America.
Making it Easier
If we are going to be effective educators, leaders, mentors, makerspace managers, we need to rethink the way that we do things. We need to make it easier to do the right thing. This should be a lens through which we view every rule we make, every lesson or project we plan, each new initiative we envision. Even the way we evaluate teachers. Just imagine how much better classroom management could be, and how much more effective our educators, if we made it easier to do the right thing. The entire profession would be transformed.
For example, if we actually provided the resources needed to do the things that educators are asked to do, educators could be much more effective. If we had enough staff working to get everything done (which would translate to smaller class sizes), there would be a better work-life balance, and less burnout. If we had enough time to give to students who are struggling, students would be more successful across the board.
How this Translates to Makerspace Management
This lens absolutely applies to makerspace management. We need to make it easier for students to make safe (right) choices. When you are setting up your makerspace think about hanging safety equipment in front of where your makers will need to use it, posting safety instructions at workstations, and having a good adult-to-maker ratio.
Set everyone up for success. Put time and funding into helping your makers do the right thing.