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Combining your job with teaching: fun, enriching, and challenging

The 'Hybrid Teaching' pilot started in 2019. It developed further in 2020 together with several collaborating partners, including secondary schools in Brainport Eindhoven, Summa, ROC ter AA, Fontys, TU/e, TMC, ASML, and Brainport Development. This pilot is aimed at letting technicians fulfill a role as a part-time teacher at various regional secondary schools, secondary vocational education and universities, in addition to their current work. The pilot has barely started and the brand-new hybrid teachers are already faced with a new challenge: switching to online teaching due to COVID-19. Together with hybrid teachers Daniel, Julio, and Maria, we look back at the past period and take a careful look at the future. In any case, it is clear to them that teaching next to your normal job is fun, enriching, and challenging, and online teaching does not change any of that.

Daniël (embedded software engineer), Julio (physicist), and Maria (biomedical engineer) have been working at TMC for several years. To them, the Hybrid Teaching pilot is the perfect opportunity to realize their dream of teaching. Maria is a tutor of first-year mechatronics students at Fontys and says: “I have always wanted to teach students, but I didn't want to become a professor. So, this is perfect for me." In addition to a shared passion for transferring knowledge, the three hybrid teachers agree that as a teacher you develop yourself daily and are challenged by students to think about your work.

And suddenly you’re standing in front of the class

To get started as a hybrid teacher, TMC offers a short course “First Aid in Education” - via Fontys PTH (Pedagogisch Technische Hogeschool). After this, the technicians can immediately start working as a teacher. Since February, Daniel has been giving theory and practical lessons for the software design course of the Fontys Electrical Engineering program. He immediately feels at home within Fontys and likes that he is immediately accepted as a teacher. “I experience an enormous amount of confidence from Fontys, and I have the feeling that as a hybrid teacher we are seen as equal to a regular teacher." Julio and Maria also integrated easily, they have contacts with other teachers, and students also accept hybrid teachers as normal.

Students like the experience that hybrid teachers bring from the business world, but sometimes they do not realize that hybrid teachers have another job besides teaching, say the three hybrid teachers. It does require some organizational skills to be able to combine the 'normal' work and the teaching position. Maria: “Students are so enthusiastic and ask a lot. Sometimes I have to point out to them that I am not available for 35 hours of my working week and that I cannot always be there for them.”

Teaching during corona

Due to the health crisis, schools were closed on March 13. From one day to the next, the daily life of teachers and students was completely turned upside down. Within two weeks, the chaos has subsided and the curriculum is back to normal. Although you can hardly call it "back to normal". Lessons are given digitally, mainly through Microsoft Teams. Practical lessons are adapted so that they can also take place digitally. Julio, a teacher of algebra, experiences the switch mainly as an opportunity to learn. "This situation is of course difficult for everyone, but I try to see it positively. It's also fun to research and discover how you can transfer your knowledge online and create interaction with students."

It is difficult for the three hybrid teachers to see that students often have difficulties with the new situation and are frustrated with the changed plans. Digital teaching reduces interaction and makes it difficult to estimate which students are still on track. That is quite a challenge for Daniel. "I miss the contact with my students," he says. "Because of the changes, I now have more written review work and I write more feedback. This also means that I spend considerably more time than I am supposed to, but I am happy to do it anyway.” All three hybrid teachers agree that purely digital teaching is hopefully a temporary situation and they hope that there will soon be opportunities for teachers to have face-to-face contact with students again.

Summer vacation in sight

The academic year is almost over and slowly but surely it is becoming increasingly clear that digital teaching will not entirely disappear for the time being. Despite the challenges that "the new teaching" entails, Maria, Julio, and Daniel would like to continue with the hybrid teaching position. "Quitting?" Asks Daniel: "I thought about it, but I like teaching too much. In addition, I think it is important for continuity towards students to continue. And besides, we will go back to physical teaching eventually, won't we?"

They look back on an eventful year, which required a lot of flexibility from everyone: students, Fontys, hybrid teachers, and certainly also from their employer. "I am happy that TMC offers me the opportunity to work as a hybrid teacher. Especially at this time, it is nice to also get the flexibility and space to organize your own time," says Julio.

The three hybrid teachers don't really dare to think about what the coming school year will look like, there is still too much uncertainty. Of course, they hope that there will soon be opportunities for students and teachers to get back together, especially for practical lessons. Teaching in real life is still an absolute preference. Other than that, they don't expect too much. Maria adds: "I don't dare to predict what the future looks like, but I hope there will be more women in the class next year! This year I only had two!"

Who knows, perhaps next year? We will then ask the new hybrid teachers how they experience combining work with teaching.

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