The long list for the election of Teacher of the Year has been made public. Two new names are featured on the list: Arnold van Vliet and Bastiaan Engel. A total of fifteen teachers have been nominated for the award for best WUR-teacher.
© University Fund Wageningen
Some former winners are also nominated, such as Henry van den Brand (2018), Roel Dijksma (2016) and Jessica Duncan (2017). A total of 17.53 per cent of the students cast a vote for their favourite teacher.
Biologist Arnold van Vliet is featured on the long list fort he first time. ‘During the course Principles of Environment, I ask the students why they are here. Time and again, they answer they want to solve the issues we, as a community, are facing. This passion for solving environmental issues is something we share. I consider students my future colleagues. I have more knowledge and experience, of course, which I am happy to share. But in a few years, when they have graduated, they are colleagues.’
‘I also show students that they can make a real difference as an individual. This is something they often feel uncertain of, so I give examples during my lectures. The fact that I appear in the media regularly is such an example: this visibility allows you to change things. But there are other ways. It all starts with creative ideas.’
Zoology teacher Anneke Valk has been nominated for the second time. ‘Isn’t that something; so cool!’ Valk strives to connect with everyone in the lecture hall. ‘I think the courses I teach are super interesting, and that is something I try to instil in my students. And I really want everyone to understand, so if I see someone looking puzzled, I say: I think we have a question. In this way, I try to keep everyone involved.’
Fred de Boer won the Teacher of the Year award last year. ‘That was such a surprise and an honour. Colleagues congratulated me, but also strangers at the supermarket, swimming pool and physiotherapist. I had no idea what was happening. It’s such a token of appreciation and really warms the heart.’
‘I was suddenly invited to all sorts of events. I was asked to speak during the InScience film festival in Nijmegen at the screening of The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, a homage to a female scientist who was the first ‘giraffeologist’. I have worked extensively in the areas she was operating in and know a little about ecology. But I also rejected quite some invitations; I am an ecologist and teacher after all. I only accepted invitations where I felt I could contribute something.’
Aside from the invitations and congratulations, there is also a negative side to winning, says De Boer. ‘Some students suddenly have very high expectations; the bar has been set higher. I’m not all that happy with this effect since I never asked for the award and just want to teach a good course. But all-in-all I am delighted with the prize.’
Love for the profession
De Boer thinks his colleague Ignas Heitkönig should win the Teacher of the Year award. ‘His calm and attentive manner towards students is amazing. He really takes the time for each student and will never turn you away. His love for the profession is very inspiring. In fact, everyone should teach this way.’
The teachers nominated on the long list will be interviewed by a student jury, made up of eight students from various disciplines, and different nationalities. Based on the interviews, the jury will nominate a top 5: the shortlist. The student jury will then select the winner of the 2020 Teacher of the Year Award from this list. The name of the winner is to be announced on 9 June, along with the Thesis Award en de Excellent Education Prize.
The fifteen nominees, in alphabetical order:
Henry van den Brand
Hannie van van der Honing
Kris van 't Klooster
Arnold van Vliet