Next up in this exploration of support as an issue in and barrier to technology programming for teens and youth gets down to brass tacks. Get out your pencils!
Part of knowing what you need is acknowledging that you have, within your reach, certain types of support already. For some, this acknowledgement is a huge step. It means that one excuse for not proceeding – not having the support and resources you need – no longer exists.
“But wait!” you’re saying, “I don’t have support! I’ve got zero budget as it is, and they just thrust this on me with no more time off desk to plan, and it’s not like my program closet’s full of Minestorms or anything!” Ok, ok, that’s valid. Still, within that we start to see a structure emerge of what you currently have, as well as what you lack. Like, for starters, you’ve got a program closet!
In all seriousness though, it helps to make a list. Consider what you might add to the following categories:
Things I have:
- Who in the building can help me? Who can I bounce ideas off of?
- Who do I know nearby with skills I could draw on?
- What kids do I know who would definitely be excited about STEM programs?
- Who here in the building wants this effort to be successful?
- What programs am I already doing that use STEM?
- What programs am I already doing that could incorporate STEM?
- What programs have I heard or read about that sound interesting?
- What resources (books, websites, Pinterest boards) can I draw upon?
Time and Funds
- When do I usually plan my programs? How much time do I spend planning programs now?
- Will STEM programs supplement our current schedule or replace less successful offerings?
- How can I streamline any planning processes (order kits instead of assembling piecemeal? use program plans that someone else has created? use a peer-leadership structure?)?
- What additional time will I need to start doing STEM programs (consider workshop attendance, idea generation, practice time, shopping time, etc)?
- What can I give up or delegate to make this time?
- What is my budget for supplies and resources?
If you work through this thought exercise, you may realize that you already have more than you thought you did. You’ll probably also note some gaps. This is what you need. Knowing where these gaps are is going to help you narrow your focus when seeking support. If you can sit down with the powers that be and confidently say “In order to do three STEM programs a quarter, I’m going to need someone else to take half of my Tuesday afternoon desk shift this month. I’d like coworker X to be off desk one of those afternoons too because I could use her expertise to help plan more efficiently. Given the budget of $30, I can do programs 1 and 2, but if there’s another $20 somewhere, I could serve this many more kids or offer program 3 also.”
A lot of this ties back in to the advocacy pieces recently discussed but here, the need for STEM is more or less assumed and you’re advocating for support. Knowing and then articulating what you need demonstrates a few different things. It shows that you’ve put thought into the overall approach you’re going to take. It points out the time and budget realities of revamping your program plan or adding a whole new type of programming. And it clarifies for you what you are going to need in order to proceed toward success.