The Identity Crisis of our Origin Story

Part 2

Of Phase 1

The original idea was to fill a trailer with a bunch of stuff and a lot of tools to use on the stuff. The plan was to give teachers access to a makerspace that did not take up their space, to create a mobile makerspace.

The original rationale was that creating access to a makerspace gave schools and classroom a more authentic application to hands-on learning, a more robust opportunity to both create and innovate, and supply the resources for student-driven project-based learning.

For the record, I think both the original plan and rational are good.  I am proud of whatever ownership I can claim of either. Somehow, when we bounced up from a trailer to a school bus and went from a couple schools sharing the stuff to being a district resource we forgot to scale our rational at the same time. Specifically, we forgot to factor in that what one small trailer can offer two or even three schools is not the same as what one big school bus can offer 30 schools. The logistics change everything.

Recognizing this, caused a small identity crisis for us. We could not change the number of schools and we could meaningfully address the all the goals we had originally set for ourselves. Good PBL takes weeks, with 26 elementary and middle schools and 32 weeks full in a school year, at best we only had a single week to offer each school.

So, if we were going to be PBL district wide we were not going to be doing if very well.

That reality did not sit well with anyone.

We spent some quality time admiring the problem, then spun ourselves into deeper frustration by trying to redefine PBL. Finally, we went into meltdown as others pointed out the same issues we were perseverating on.

Firmly positioned between defeated, frustrated and mad we went to the PTB and explained the existential crisis.

She listened, and then offered the clarity we had been unable to find for ourselves

“Your role is not project-based learning. There is no way it could be with one bus.  Your job is to get teachers thinking outside the box. To explore new ways of doing and teaching that are more hands-on and innovative than what we have been doing for the last…. Forever.

Focus on finding ways to help students and teachers be more innovative, and leave the PBL to the experts.

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