Teachers in The Netherlands are striving to continue providing education for school children. That said, the sudden transition to e-learning methods poses a daily challenge for both teachers and students.
Teachers like Daisy Mertens, who start their day with their laptops open, ready to begin lessons. Daisy has been recognised as one of the best teachers in the Netherlands. Daisy teachers primary school children at a school in Helmond.
With the best teacher award in 2016, she went on to take part in the 2019 global top teacher competition. Daisy was chosen from among thousands of entrants and travelled to Dubai for the event. There she was chosen as one of the top ten finalists.
The day starts in a light mood, with the kids sending an emoticon. “They send a smiley face; then I know they are ready for the lesson. The smiley is supposed to indicate how they feel at that moment – tired, happy or cheerful”, says Daisy.
“On April Fool’s Day, we had a little extra fun. I asked all the children to send a picture of their hair so that I could do a lice-check. Little things like that make it is easier to keep the things feeling light-hearted”.
The students are given detailed information on the tasks that need to be done that day. “We start with maths, spelling, and language. It usually varies between discussing their assignments and specific instructions. They then log in via a special programme. There, they can see my note board and me”.
In case the students need further explanation or do not understand something, they can always send the teacher a text via WhatsApp. Sometimes, the answers are in a word or sentence, and other cases, a video chat is convenient. “They can also ask each other by sending a text in the group. Often, they help each other before I react”.
Daisy emphasises staying connected, even if it is distant and digital. “We play a lot of games, and I really enjoy it. For example, I suddenly ask everyone to grab their toothbrush and then everyone bursts out laughing”.
However, a lot of things are difficult to manage with remote teaching. “A girl said she misses my gestures. The way I move as I explain something or give them a high five. Just the fact that a teacher is indeed there”.
This forced e-teaching certainly comes with lessons for the future. “The students are now creating a vlog from a specific assignment each week. For example, they have to talk about the pros and cons of home education. This activity enables me to see a completely different side of the children. I really like that and definitely want to keep doing it”.
Editor: Melinda Walraven