Patrick Waters is an award-winning educator who brings the Maker Movement to new audiences. He founded The STEAMworks, a makerspace for individuals with neurological differences at The Monarch Institute in Houston, TX. He is one of the few Maker Education teachers focused on special needs students. He has written on Maker Education for web publications such as SmartBrief Education and Edutopia.
What’s MakerEd? MakerEd is a educational philosophy which celebrates the learning process which occurs when a person makes something interesting. Patrick Waters doesn’t just create robots and cutting boards, he helps craft young people into thinking, problem-solving, engaged adults.
When he’s done teaching young adults, he teaches normal-aged adults at local makerspaces in the Northern Virginia. He regularly post updates on his work at www.woodshopcowboy.com, a blog at the crossroads of sawdust, education and technology.
— Mr. Patrick.
A short list of web publications:
Edutopia.org: PBL Through a Maker’s Lens & Makerspaces and Special Needs
Education Talk Radio: PBL Through a Maker’s Lens
7 thoughts on “About”
Please, as best you can, in terms of simplicity, pass on to me whatever you know and learn. Often, my day is spent attempting to quell anguish and agitation, stomping on, holding back, cinching in the reigns… When I leave my subbing jobs, I feel that some divine intervention opened the fissure through which my teaching career slipped as i failed to tread student teaching waters. Most days feel like correctional facility officer training sessions. I cherish each incident of sensed accomplishment, whether curricular or social in nature.
Subbing and student teaching are tough gigs. While I’ve never had either (I come from an after-school educator background) I can sympathize. I quickly learned in the after-school world that I couldn’t rely on embedded power structures (say, the principal or threat of failing grades) that I had to be the coolest adult in the classroom to be successful – I had to make my time with the students fun, engaging and different. It’s why I turned to woodworking and “making” stuff as a curriculum. No one else did it and the kids always respect a person that can saw a board in half in under fifteen seconds.
I would recognize a few things about your place in a student’s world: you don’t begin with any power in those situations, and therefore the students won’t give away the respect and power of the classroom. You have to earn it through being fair, honest and (truly) happy to be there. Let the students know your ground rules early on, let them know that, yes, you are different than their teacher but you are still the teacher and you’ll get through the hour-and-a-half together. Then, hopefully, the lesson can move onto learning. It’s a strange thing, really – as teachers we have enormous influence over the students behavior and learning, but very little true power. Recognize the contradiction and work with it.
Second, keep plugging away at teaching. If you’re looking at blogs about teaching (and asking me, a guy who follows his gut more than any doctrine) then you care and that’s the most important thing. Care about getting it right, review your successes and ask questions about what goes wrong. My sea legs didn’t get under me until a year or two in any teaching role I’ve had. And since I’ve joined a new school, I’m still learning what to do and when to do it. It’s why I’m blogging about my work.
Third – Subbing and student teaching are great ways to see how other teachers teach. I’m jealous. I’ve never done either and I’m always “stuck” in my classroom and my way of doing the craft of teaching. I relish the moments when another teacher is free enough to show me how they do it. Watch for those moments and keep your ears open.
Good luck and keep savoring the small victories. Some days, it’s all we’ve got.
– Mr. Patrick
I am glad someone who cares has been given the opportunity you have. Just stay informed of basic behavior and learning research and techniques and keep using that magic that comes from your gut! If you are in a situation that allows you to actually ponder and act on what is best for the students, then at least there are a few students out there receiving a legitimate education!
Thanks! Yes, some days feel rewarding. I have had a couple of instances when pausing to reach out on a limb made one of those days. Taking a deep breath and looking directly into the eye of an aggressively posturing student, explaining that we are all required to be here by law and we might as well make the most of it we can and have as much fun as possible, I modeled appropriate discussion for disagreement…and they actually self-corrected and smiled…! It was a truly good feeling that i will never forget. They’ll get those math skills in time, and maybe more effectively if some social interaction improvement creates a more comfortable classroom environment.
Would like more info on the co2 launcher. I’m not getting the launch part. and why the eyelets are vertical not horizontal to the drag surface. I am building the strip for my math and science summer school institute, but need a launcher and they art really expensive. Is there any way we could “talk”?
Dennis, My contact info is at the black header on the bottom of this page.
Your the best teacher ever.