Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The makerspace is coming! The makerspace is coming!

Yep, that's right. I'm entering the makerspace world. I couldn't resist channeling Paul Revere since our fourth graders recently began their American Revolution unit and the third graders are studying Paul Revere as one of their "freedom fighters." 

I'm been enamored with the idea of having a makerspace in the media center for a while now and at my former library I was beginning to clear an area in the back storage room to create a tiny one. I've been collecting ideas on my Pinterest makerspace board (up to 200+ pins) and even though my plans were for a tiny makerspace, I dreamed of something more. By "tiny" I mean basically starting with Legos and maybe some Augmented Reality. Nothing too fancy or expensive. Then, I changed schools over the summer and put those plans on hold. I did mention in my interview that I like the idea of a makerspace and the learning commons model; this was in response to "What would my ideal library would look like?" interview question. 

Well, be careful what you mention in an interview! The makerspace idea was something I was planning to launch maybe in year two but more likely in year three. I've made the theme for the library this year "Everything is Awesome" (yes, from the Lego Movie)  to go with a "being different and it's okay" kind of idea and take very baby steps into developing a makerspace with some Legos. That was the extent of my plans for this school year - especially since I'm coming in behind a media specialist who retired after 20+ years in her position. So, what about the being careful part? Wait for it....my principal presented me with a grant application and said something to the effect of "Remember that makerspace you mentioned in the interview? Maybe you can get it funded with this," and he hands me a brief printed email about a grant that our local school system offers. "Oh and it's due on the 29th." I smiled and graciously took the paper, pleased that he'd remembered the conversation about the makerspace, but seriously freaked out that the application was due in two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!! My two or three year away plan is due in two weeks! Deep breaths......

I quickly enlisted the help of the other specialists in the school (art, music and technology teachers) and created a makerspace team. They helped with the ideas and research suggestions, I consulted Makerspaces: A practical guide for librarians and The Makerspace Playbook  and various other articles I'd been saving as I typed up the grant application and initial surveys (data that needed to be included in the grant application to support our project in the category of instructional innovation). I didn't sleep that much over the next two weeks, but I finally got everything typed, proofed, printed and copied. My principal delivered the grant application for me just before the 5 pm deadline. 

We were supposed to find out if we were approved or not on 9/30. That date came and went - not a word. I thought I didn't get the grant. After all, I threw together something that needed years of planning into two weeks. I didn't think I'd done as thorough of a job as I would have liked and I was sure I'd left some things off the budget request. My principal sent some emails and found out the decisions had been delayed and that we should wait patiently. 

Another two weeks later, we received the news - we were approved and for the full budget requested! I was in shock at first, then elated, then overwhelmed, then elated again. Now, about a month after receiving the news I'm still feeling a mix of emotions. With the delayed announcement, we have to completely restructure our timeline. We've officially realized that we did indeed forget to budget for some items that are needed, and we're running into delays while waiting for other people to do their work before we can do ours. I getting antsy knowing that a report is due in January. 

Then I got another surprise today - I entered into a drawing at a professional development session two weeks ago and won $500 to fund a Donor's Choose request. Now I just have to actually submit one before Friday! I'm hoping to link it to the makerspace, maybe even to pay for the items we forgot to budget for or maybe to update the nonfiction section. That's another project I have going. 

Yes, I know, I do have a lot going on - not even counting the book fair starting today, but do you want to know the reality of it all? My family (husband, twins in 5th grade) and I moved in mid-October in the middle of the week. It was just one neighborhood over so thankfully no school changes for my children, but there are still boxes all over the house. We also inherited a dog a week ago from the previous owners of the house (really interesting story, but I'll save for another time). I'm not sharing all of this to say, "Wow, look at everything she's accomplishing!" Not at all! I'm sharing all this to say, YOU can do this too! Life can be messy and inconvenient and there never seems to be enough time, but even with things going haywire in your life or library or whatever, you can do it! It's all going to be okay. It may take a while, but it will be okay!  

I have found that I get really bored with nothing going on, so I like that I'm staying busy. Sure, I'm a little (sometimes a lot) stressed, but being busy and making progress toward goals is always a good thing in my mind. Write back and let me know what kinds of goals you're working towards and the little steps of progress so we can celebrate together. And if you're working on a makerspace, let me know that too - maybe we can plan some sort of long-distance collaboration. 

Wishing you health and happiness!

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