Teacher of the Year Award will be different this year

This year, the prize will not go to a single individual teacher.
Arie Nieuwenhuizen, TOTY winner in 2020. Photo: Guy Ackersmans.

So says University Fund Wageningen in an email to the 250 teachers nominated for the Teacher of the Year (TOTY) Award.

‘Actually, the teachers came up with the idea themselves,’ says Susanne van der Vliet of University Fund Wageningen. ‘Several of the nominated teachers said that this year it would be better to sing the praises of the collective of all the teachers and the support staff instead of singling out one individual. On that basis, we have decided on a different approach to the prize this year, celebrating the joint effort  rather than the individual.’ Exactly what this will look like is not known yet, says Van der Vliet. ‘We are working on an alternative, but that is still in development.’

If you ask me, the current cohort of students, whose degree programmes and student life are not what they expected, deserve a round of applause as well

Physiology teacher Arie Nieuwenhuizen

Physiology teacher Arie Nieuwenhuizen won TOTY in 2020. He thinks it’s a ‘nice idea’ to put the collective in the limelight. ‘As long as the support staff are explicitly included in that limelight. Of course, it is true that in Covid times too some teachers go that extra mile, but the measures have led to a lot of extra work pressure for the teachers and the support staff in general. My job satisfaction has gone down quite a bit, because it depends a lot on the interaction with students. Despite all this, classes have carried on as usual over the past 10 months, and that is a feather in all our caps.’

Motivation boost

‘Maybe we should make it even broader,’ adds Nieuwenhuizen. ‘If you ask me, the current cohort of students, whose degree programmes and student life are not what they expected, deserve a round of applause as well.’

Winning the TOTY award did give Nieuwenhuizen’s motivation a boost. ‘It is an expression of appreciation from the students. Apart from that, your life as a teacher goes on as usual.’

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