Two “Maker Moments”, Fear and Professional Responsibility

Two moments occurred yesterday that I hope to never forget.

IMG_3612The first was when our district science specialist came into our office wanting to see what we were creating. She was so excited to see us integrating science into what most people thought was a “tech” camp for kids. We’re hosting maker camps this summer and in doing so will be teaching kids as young as first grade how to create with squishy and paper circuits to producing a hackathon for our secondary students.

What made that moment cool was that as much of a self-proclaimed geek that I am, science has never been my forte, especially since my experience learning science was through textbooks, lectures and note taking. There’s so much that I missed as a student but creating technology and “inventing” has pushed me to learn certain critical pieces needed for projects. I know in my heart that our students will benefit greatly from these experiences and when I told her that we would be continuing this learning throughout the school year, her joy at hearing that was even more inspiring and also quite critical. (Makerspaces for everyone y’all!!)

The second moment was a short conversation between myself and one of our digital learning specialist. She admitted that she was scared to death when I started talking about summer camps of makerspaces and invention. She said that she was having so much fun which was great to hear especially since her experience with primary learning spaces is one of our strengths. What made that moment special though was being able to share with her that I had my own fears too. That “fear” is why I am committed to doing this work because one thing that I have learned in my time as an educator is that adult fears often hinder student progress…except when you refuse to allow them to do so. We literally bonded over “fear”. Imagine that!

Speaking of fear…my motivation this year has been to identify the potential opportunities for kids that could generate the most adult fear and then just doing it.

A Brief Reflection

We are currently in our “summer learning…plan for next year” mode which means that as we push forward to work with our teachers as needed while considering how we will support learning next year, it is so much more important to reflect on what we have done to this point.

For me, that reflection started months ago when I realized how often I have been away this year. As generous as my district has been, this has bothered me for quite some time and next year, I’m definitely not traveling as much. If I have made any mistakes this year, not being strategic enough with my time away was one of them…which is why I have declined several opportunities to share next year because they take place during the school day. Sadly, this includes my own state technology conference…other than the one day if our panel is approved.

Why are we still doing this again?

Here’s the deal. You can’t complain about the lack of voice or teachers in the room if we schedule all of the professional learning during the week when most teachers can’t simply take off to be there and in most cases would much rather be with their students.

It’s so odd that no one can seem to change this.

Yes, I understand that “during the school day” professional learning conferences are often unavoidable but if we want to be more inclusive of teachers and considerate of kids…perhaps we should consider alternatives.

I love sharing, learning, meeting new educators and stealing borrowing ideas to try in our district and I certainly recognize that going to “all of the things” isn’t something that anyone should need to do but it seems as if the places that I want to go are scheduled for the times when being out of district is impossible…and that sucks. It sucks even more when it impacts others who certainly need to have a voice and ear in those spaces and can’t because of travel limitations and their very necessary primary focus on student learning.

With that said, I’m not banning all weekly travel but am being much more strategic about when and where I am gone. The reality is that if my influence and voice has done nothing, it has created much needed learning opportunities for our students that our district could not have possibly done alone and for that, the sacrifice is more than worth it.

As in all things, my guiding question is simple…

How does this benefit the students of Lufkin ISD?

Because remember…it’s not about me…never has been and never will be



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