A Reflection from Aaron Vanderwerff

As I transition into a new role at a different organization, I am reflecting on what I am grateful for and proud of from my time with this remarkable community.

During my four years at Maker Ed, I have been grateful to increasingly center equity and liberatory practice. Offering professional development centered in making & doing, reflecting, and sharing is to step away from the banking model of learning that is so prevalent in our communities; it centers learning and shifts power away from the facilitator. Over the past four years, I have learned with the team as we designed professional development centered first on the Tinkering Studio’s Learning Dimensions and then Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s HILL model. As we deepened our practice, we realized how important it is to make the underlying liberatory practices of maker-centered learning visible. I look forward to seeing liberatory maker-centered learning at the core of what Maker Ed does and seeing how the team makes it more visible and more accessible to educators across the country.

I have also been grateful for the opportunity to dive deeply into a few projects, in particular our partnership with Agency by Design Oakland to think deeply about and practice repair. This work allowed me to engage with a group of creative local educators to more deeply understand repair, and how repair and the care of objects around us leads us to an understanding of systems and caring for the people and world around us. It is from this project that I took my prompting for the next chapter in my career, at a local urban farm, where as the Facilities Director I will take care of the safety of the community and repair the buildings and objects around us.

The Maker Ed team has been a significant part of my community throughout the pandemic. They are the people I see most often, aside from my family; in collaboration we shifted our practices and programs to meet the needs of educators during the pandemic, as well as our own policies to humanize our workspace during these difficult times. Over nearly the last two years, we have slowly shifted the way our organization works to distribute leadership opportunities and ownership of our work and to build more solid structures for collaboration across the organization. I am so grateful that I was able to be part of this work during such an intense period of time.

I am proud of where we, as an organization, are heading and feel very fortunate to be able to turn things over to my thoughtful, grounded, and visionary colleague Aáron Heard. I look forward to seeing how they intentionally connect both people and ideas, and works with the team to continue to center liberatory practices in Maker Ed’s work.



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