Portretfoto van Amber Walraven
Portretfoto van Amber Walraven

The passion for education of Amber Walraven

In this recurring section, lecturers talk about what motivates them in education, as a counterpart to discussing the 'educational burden'. This month Amber Walraven, assistant professor at the Radboud Teachers Academy, tells what gives her energy in education

Where do you find your educational drive?  

‘I find everything that has to do with education interesting. I studied educational sciences and I totally found my calling at the university teachers academy. Educating a new generation of teachers is fantastic. And challenging, because I always feel ‘pressured’ to provide good education, serve as a role model, and to practice what you preach. That my education indirectly influences education in another place, namely secondary education, is amazing.’ 

What moment in education has stayed with you? 

‘The lecture in which I asked: what do you guys want, do you want me to do what I had planned, or do you want to activate me in order to learn everything you want to know about today's topic? It became ‘activating Amber’. I got questions fired at me and by going more in-depth, asking students the same questions, and reviewing the prepared article, we managed to address everything that I had planned, but it felt completely different. Students felt that I truly listened to them, and that this was exactly what they wanted to know.’ 

‘Another lecture in which I openly shared that I, just like them, was (or am) often too perfectionistic, and that this almost resulted in a burn-out.’ 

‘And finally: an email, years later. From a former student who thanked me for what I did at the time.’ 

Where do you find the inspiration for your education? 

‘My education is about education. So, I really like looking at others. Read what others do, look at what others do. I have quite a network on social media, and I manage an app (Teacher Tapp), which asks teachers in all sectors three daily questions about their work, what they experience, and what effect policy has on their practice.’ 

What is your favourite approach in education? 

‘An approach needs to match your goal. I like to alternate. A lecture in which I give instructions and have students work on a good application assignment. But reading a text together is also nice. A lecture in which students can choose between multiple assignments. One thing is always very important for me as a teacher of teachers: I continuously explain why I do what I am doing, and I sometimes stop to share my thoughts. So, something like: ‘You're asking me this question, I can now do either of two things: I can go with you or indicate that I'm currently busy. I choose to...’ Or: ‘I notice that this did not really go according to plan, what could I have done differently?’ My students are not just students but learning to be a teacher. They also learn from the choices I make as a teacher, and from my own dilemma's.’ 

What tips do you have for lecturers? 

‘Involve your students in your considerations, your goals, and your choices. Dare to not know the answer sometime and say it out loud. Also discuss your education with colleagues, share experiences, approaches, and goals.’ 

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