Become a teacher? Dive into the box
During 'Expedition teacher', prospective teachers quickly discover whether the teaching profession is something for them. The first day they practice in the Technolab of the Hogeschool Leiden, the next day they are in front of the class.
The Technolab on the Leidse Betaplein looks like a fun children's party. In the middle of a large room, decorated like a living room, with plants, benches and carpets, a bop of children moves on their knees around an expanded square. Their eyes follow fast cars, mini-robots with bright flashing lights. Their fingers slide over the i-pad, with which they control the carts. Will they manage to send the robots where they want? Here and there a cart flies off the bend, under a table, getting stuck on the carpet. The mission is to capture the presents in the center of the square. “Good, you've got one”, one of the participants in 'Expedition Teacher' encourages his group of children.
'They all find such a first quick lesson equally exciting'
“Welcome to the Technolab”, says Annet Stegeman a little later. Stegeman is a lecturer in 'lateral entrants' at Hogeschool Leiden. A pad of post-its is in her hands. Every now and then she takes notes while following the participants. She points to the square playing field. “Let's see how this participant receives his new group.” The students keep turning to a new game and six new children join him. “Yes, he does well,” she says. “He has recovered well, because he first has to welcome the children and make contact and only then start with the explanation. He remembers.”
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The Technolab in Leiden was set up twelve years ago with the idea that education could use more sparkle. “There is more to learn than just from books,” explains Chantal Goes, Technolab employee. Every year, thirty thousand students, ranging from primary school age to 25 years old, come to discover new gadgets and ideas in the field of technology and nature. Because all those students who come to the Technolab need guidance and coaching, the Technolab works together with Hogeschool Leiden and Annet Stegeman. Today, ten possible future lateral entrants or part-timers will have the opportunity to discover whether education and teaching is really something for them via Expedition teacher. “Walking here for two days is very different from calling a primary school in the area to see if you can join us for a day and sit in the back of the class and watch,” says Stegeman.
Watching such a day can of course also be useful, but here, during the two-day, everything is aimed at doing and experiencing. Useful for anyone who wants to switch to education, but still has doubts, needs a final push or even more insight into whether the subject really suits them. Stegeman: “Side enrolment is a completely different learning route than part-time teacher training. Lateral entrants often immediately get a fixed class, which means you have less time to find out which class or which age group suits you best. You can also find out which route suits you better during this expedition.”
Hence the two-day introduction. Today the group of ten possible teachers is thrown into the deep end. Group 4 of the St. Joseph school in Leiden, a bunch of cheerful and fun children, are guests in the Technolab and will learn all about robots. Stegeman explains: “Today, the participants were deliberately given little time to prepare for a mini-lesson, because that is sometimes the case in education.” They do have plenty of time to prepare a lesson for the second day, Stegaman adds. As a teacher you have to be able to do both, put together a well-thought-out lesson, but also act quickly and be flexible. “They all find such a first quick lesson equally exciting, you know. But now they are doing it all nicely.”
One of the participants is Marco. In daily life he works as a project manager at the judiciary. Why is he participating? “After these two days, I want to make a decision,” he says. Now that the first step has been taken, he also wants to take that second step and make a decision. Education has long attracted him. In his work as a project leader, he feels that he has too little contact with young people. He is looking for more meaning. He enjoys teaching children and hitting them with new things. “Even if it's just two children that you can give something extra to one day, that already gives a lot of energy,” he says. “Have you seen the 'Classes' series?” he asks. That motivated him even more to go into education.
Even after several game learning rounds, he looks enthusiastic. When he has to close the game for the whole group of children a little later, he lets his hands and fingers move happily along to the rhythm of his natural voice. It seems easy for him.
"It's very nice today, but do I want this every day and every week?"
Where then is his doubt? On a day like today, he finds that he enjoys teaching, he says, just as he expected. But at what age, he doesn't know exactly. Maybe 4th grade is too young for him. “It's a lot of fun today, but do I want this every day and every week? Maybe slightly older children suit me better.”
Sophie is another Expedition teacher candidate. After the first teaching assignment, Stegeman gave her a scribbled memo sheet. It says: Your mimicry is your language. “I wasn't really aware of that at all,” says Sophie. “I thought I should do everything with my voice, but I don't have to.”
Sophie studied law and held various policy positions. “The fact that I started thinking about education is actually because of my children. When we had to find a school for my eldest I loved being at school so much. Such a warm environment. Then I started to wonder if it might be time for me to follow my heart more.”
Her yellow note – this way there is a first short feedback for each participant – also says: save your energy. Sophie smiles contagiously and nods in agreement. “When I do something, I put my full effort into it. After a while I did indeed realize that I could slow down a bit. My enthusiasm works well for the children, I can see that, but a little less is still enough.”
She chose this two-day introduction because she wanted objective advice. “When I ask people around me if they think teaching is right for me, they immediately say 'yes, of course.' But they don't know me here. I wanted to hear what professionals think about it.”
'They were good teachers, they are sweet and they know a lot'
There is still some time to ask the children of group 4 what they thought of the learning day. Annet Stegeman tells group 4 that she wants to ask them a very serious question. She lowers her voice, she whispers. You have to have a lot of self-confidence to talk so softly, Marco will say about that later during the evaluation. No, says Stegeman, why don't you try that tomorrow, you can do that too. The children are curious. “What do you think these people who taught today were?” Fingers shoot up. 'Teachers', 'masters'. "And what could they do?". “They were good teachers, they are sweet and they know a lot.” Feedback from the heart of the children. Cheers to the new teachers.
Could Education be for you? On February 13 and 14, the next Expedition teacher will be in the Techno lab