The next teacher from our team I’m interviewing is online teacher Wendy Damen! Wendy is one of our teachers who is full of passion and enthusiasm for teaching online and physically at school.

Not to be confused with Wendy van Dalen, the founder and director of DfC.

What she likes most about teaching is the bond she builds with the students, the fun conversations she has with them, not to mention the knowledge she can impart.

Wendy Damen has also been filling in for the headmistress when she is on leave since the 2023-2024 school year. This arrangement suits both sides very well.

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Questions for online teacher Wendy Damen

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You have been working as an online teacher Wendy for DfC since 2019. Can you tell me something more about this?

2018 we were allowed to go to America (Seattle) with our family for a few years for my husband’s work. Before that, I worked for 18 years in regular primary education in the Netherlands. During my first year in America, I did not work, so I had all the time for my family and myself. This was very nice!

In 2019, I started working at DfC. I enjoyed the challenge and clicked with Wendy (van Dalen, ed.).

Students from another colleague were transfered to me. I liked that I only had to focus on Dutch. What’s nice is that you teach students of different ages. For example, my youngest student was four, and the oldest was already 14.  That makes for a nice variety.

I didn’t think you could build such a bond with students online. But you really can!

I now live back in the Netherlands, but I still work for DfC. I can’t quite call it a hobby because it’s serious work, but I really enjoy it!

foto van Issaquah in de USA

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In that first period, you lived with your family in Seattle. What was that like?

That was a really great period! We immediately came into a warm bath, and there were also a few Dutch families with whom we had and still have a very nice contact.

We lived in the village of Issaquah, a beautiful village with a community of many different nationalities. I really found the contact with those people to enrich our lives. Furthermore, we lived in a beautiful area with mountains and nature. I really fell in love with this. The hiking in the mountains was especially wonderful.

I still find it very special that we could experience this with our family. All four of us look back on a beautiful time there.
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You first worked part of the day at the Dutch school in Seattle. Was that easy to combine with DfC?

On Saturday mornings, I taught at the Orange School in Seattle. Most of the week, most of the kids attend an American school, so the Dutch classes are on weekends. I was surprised how many Dutch and Belgians lived in the area. The school had 100 students.

The Orange School focused on Dutch, just like at DfC. I was teaching group 3. At DfC, you make arrangements with parents at the beginning of the year, and I had chosen to teach during the work week, so this was easy to combine.gezinsfoto op Mount Rainier

 

 

 

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Did you notice any differences between education in Seattle and Dutch education? And if so, which ones?

Dutch education at the Oranjeschool was somewhat similar to the Netherlands. Of course, it was only a few hours a week, so if parents want to keep up with Dutch, they will also have to invest at home.

When I compare Dutch education to the education my children received at the American school, I see both differences and similarities:

  • I think there is a lot of pressure on students in the Netherlands and America. They have to do so much. Furthermore, where you live makes a lot of difference. After all, you must go to the school in your region. So there really are regions where education is less. Especially in the regions where richer people live and have better education.
  • What I like about my children’s high school is that they had many choices and could choose subjects they really liked.
  • At the NTC elementary school, parents are much more involved in education.
  • In the Netherlands, I see that many people are too busy, and there is, I think, less parental involvement.

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What is the craziest thing you have experienced during an online lesson?

One time, a student forgot the lesson, so this was just a message. The student was on his way to the airport. But then, we still did online lessons in the car. This was bumpy, though, because the connection dropped out frequently. They drove through the mountains, but in the end, with some improvisation, it was a fun lesson.
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DfC has a team. How is that online for you as an online teacher, Wendy?

In 2019, we were still a relatively small team of four colleagues. Now, we have 13 colleagues. Recently, we also started having coffee mornings. This is pleasant, although it is not always easy to find a good time, as our colleagues all live in different time zones.

We also have meetings a few times a year. Often, many colleagues are present. It is nice to see each other and exchange experiences. In between, you also sometimes have contact, for example, to exchange ideas.

Please take a look at our great team via this link!


Sometimes, you have a double task at DfC. How do you experience this?

This is a nice change from teaching. I am someone who likes challenges and changes from time to time. These things appeal to me:

  • I especially enjoy the intake interviews with new clients.
  • I also enjoy hearing why they choose Dutch lessons for their children.
  • Furthermore, coaching new colleagues is inspiring to do. I like that I can help them get started and give them ideas on approaching the lessons.

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What was returning to the Netherlands like for you and your family?

It was a rollercoaster. We would have liked to stay a little longer, but unfortunately, we didn’t get our visas extended, so we were kind of forced to return to the Netherlands.

I remember we landed in the Netherlands on Friday, and on Saturday, the lockdown began. This was very tough because in America, where we lived, they already had Corona pretty much under control, and we could actually live ‘normally’ again.

Fortunately, we could move back into our house, which also felt very strange. It doesn’t really feel like your own home anymore, so we did a lot of remodeling and painting to make it ‘our own’ again.

Coming back with two adolescents aged 16 and 12 is also definitely not easy. They had to get used to the education here, especially adolescents’ mentality. In general, they really treat each other more respectfully in America.

We have now been back for two years, and fortunately, we have all found our feet again. To quote Wendy van Dalen: ‘In every country you have lived in, you leave a piece of yourself behind.’  This is really true! Part of me is still there, and this is sometimes difficult, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
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You now are also a substitute teacher at an elementary school in the Netherlands. How is that after almost five years of teaching only online?

It’s getting used to it but also a lot of fun. I especially have to get used to the time pressure. With DfC, if a student doesn’t master a certain part, you have time to repeat it a lot and go deeper into it. In regular primary education, you ‘have’ to continue with the rest of the material because, at the end of the year, you have to have covered all the material.

I do enjoy being physically in front of the class, especially when we cover a subject, and you can talk about it with the whole group, and the children can give their opinions.

What I like most about teaching is that it can be both online and physical.
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Finally, what do we definitely want to know about ‘online teacher Wendy’ that you haven’t told us here yet?

Haha, I could say a lot more because I’m an open book, but then this would be a very long interview.

Do you want your child to have online Dutch lessons from such great teachers?

Please read more about how we work via this link. You can also email us to schedule an online intake free of charge to discuss all the possibilities for your child. We love to help you!