5 Steps to Advocate for Maker Learning - Digital Promise

5 Steps to Advocate for Maker Learning

Maker Learning is hands-on, creative, engaging, challenging, and is winning the hearts and minds of students across the nation. It teaches important life skills and has the power to:

  • Increase interest and skills in STEM;
  • make curriculum more relevant;
  • Promote social and emotional learning;
  • Personalize learning through student voice and choice; and
  • Teach students to collaborate and problem solve.

Get started by following these 5 steps:

Become familiar with the maker learning programs in your schools and community. What types of spaces are available for students to make in? In what subject areas are students engaged in making? Connect with maker educators, parents, and other community members interested in maker learning to form an advocacy group.
  • Attend open houses, PTA meetings and parent nights, and ask questions to find out how/if your school is supporting maker learning.
  • Find out if your school, library, museum or community has a makerspace or maker organization that is working with local schools, and learn more about the activities and events they host.
    • Check out Nation of Maker’s map of community makerspaces  and search sites like Eventbrite and Meetup for “Maker Educator Meetups” to connect with local makers and encourage others to become knowledgeable about the benefits of maker learning.
    • Find your community on social media by following hashtags #makereducation, #makered, #makerspaces.
  • Don’t forget to talk to local businesses, reuse sites, arts organizations, business incubators and other organizations that may be involved in supporting maker education.
    • If your community hosts a large maker event, like a Maker Faire, you can often meet maker organizations that are supporting maker education in person
  • Bring together these diverse stakeholders who are interested in maker education. You can:
    • Host a Maker Town Hall or a Maker Educator Meetup  to convene key stakeholders to discuss the role of the Maker Movement in your community and schools.
    • When you have gathered enough support, consider forming an advocacy group and set up regular meetings.

 

What do you want to accomplish? Are you hoping your school or district will open a makerspace, offer more professional development for teachers, or integrate making projects throughout the curriculum? Set specific goals in order to create actionable next steps.”]

  • Identify goals and a timeline. Use SMART for guidance to create a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-related goal.
  • For some helpful guidelines as you plan your goals, explore the Making Spaces Toolkit.

 

Your audience is anyone whose support you need to meet your goals as well as those who will be impacted as a result of those goals. As you craft your approach, consider your audience and the issues that they care about. Build your talking points around areas where your needs and theirs intersect.

  • Keep in mind that you will likely need to influence different audiences with different perspectives. For instance, if you’re speaking with a district superintendent, note that s/he has different motivations than a classroom teacher, and the involvement of both will benefit a school maker learning program.
  • Consult your PTA/PTSA for best practices on communicating with your school administrators.
  • Don’t forget the School Board! Check out PAL’s resource for How to Speak to a School Board.

 

Once you have formed your team, identified goals, and crafted the right message for your influencers and stakeholders, it’s time to start advocating! Consider the best forum to share your ideas- is it a PTA or School Board meeting? Offer your audience opportunities to experience making and to become inspired and motivated by stories of its impact.

  • Use the Making the Case Resource Library for stories, articles, and videos that support making.
  • Know what resources you can point different stakeholders to like the Maker Learning Leadership Framework or Youth Makerspace Playbook. Check out Maker Promise Resources for more. Asking someone to support your cause will be more successful when you can help them help you.
  • Where possible, design a hands-on experience so that you can offer your audience an opportunity to experience making and to become inspired-motivated by stories of its impact.
  • Be prepared to share some relevant and personal stories about how making has impacted you and your learning throughout your life, or stories of kids finding their voice and passion through making.
  • For tips on how to be a maker advocate, check out the Nation of Makers Advocacy toolkit.

 

You’ve started the conversation, now continue to take action! It’s important to remain persistent and flexible as you work towards your goals. Remember, you are part of a bigger movement that is transforming education.

 

Download and share the Maker Learning Advocacy flyer here.

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