“I’m definitely not becoming a teacher,” said Sander Kattenpoel Oude Heerink, when he applied for a job as a lecturer in Audiovisual Products at Saxion’s School of Creative Technology (ACT). The response he received surprised him. Sander, who joined Saxion in February, talks about his transition from the television industry to Saxion: “I didn’t even know these kinds of vacancies existed in higher vocational education.”
According to Sander Kattenpoel Oude Heerink, working in television is an elite sport. Having worked in the industry for fifteen years, in various facilitating roles, including as head image engineer and switch engineer, he should know. During his drive home from the western Netherlands to Hengelo after a hectic airing of Opsporing Verzocht, Veronica Inside, Op1, Zapp Live or ESPN, he had the chance to unwind and clear his mind. As he always went “back home to Twente” outside peak hours, the distance was not really an issue either.
Involved in student development
Working at Media Park had been challenging enough. And, said Sander, he had plenty of opportunities for advancement at the managerial level. “I never had a clear career path in mind, but I did want to keep developing my skills and knowledge and being involved in creating beautiful things. In the last few years, alongside my job as switch engineer, I also managed my department. Because I had always been involved in mentoring and coaching others, I practically ended up in that role by accident,” he laughed. “I discovered I liked being involved in students’ development. Supervising interns and final year students and the recruiting of new staff. When I look back, it’s something I’ve always done – including at the media company in Hengelo where I originally started off. I put together courses to help us retain new graduates.”
Sander was still really enjoying his job in Hilversum. But he often wondered what he would be doing ten years later. “If I had kept moving up the ladder, I would have eventually had to move westward. I also felt like if I chose that path, I would have to do it wholeheartedly. Then something happened. I unexpectedly spotted a vacancy for an Audiovisual Products lecturer at Saxion.” The job description surprised him, says Sander “I didn’t know that this kind of position existed in higher vocational education.” In fact, I was so keen that I almost felt like the job was already mine.”
I didn’t know these kinds of positions existed in higher vocational education.” In fact, I was so keen that I almost felt like the job was already mine.
Focus on coaching students and project groups
But still. Did he really fancy becoming a lecturer? Thinking about it took him back to his days as an Electrical Engineering student: the static, rigid classroom setting, teachers giving endless explanations of mathematical formulas. “I decided to enter into a discussion about it. Then I would know for sure why I might decide to not want to do it in the end.” But everything went differently than expected. A “fantastic exploratory discussion” turned into a job application: “I told them honestly that I did not want to become the sort of teacher I used to have myself. They found that pretty amusing, because, that was not what the school was looking for either, they responded. The job would focus more on coaching students and project groups in my own area of expertise. Then I thought: you know what? I’m just going to do it. This is right up my alley.”
Practical experience helps with explaining the theory
For Sander, everything he had loved about his previous jobs came together. “Last February, I even started working on a studio assignment at Saxion, in which I had the opportunity to train the students in the work I had been doing myself for years. The following term was when I actually started teaching – about how to edit, assembling a camera. I had to find my groove, but I ended up being pretty good at placing and explaining the theory because I had seen it done so often in practice. And that made me really step into the role of lecturer – but in a way that suited my personality.”
The job was focused on coaching students and project groups in my own area of expertise. Then I thought: you know what? I’m just going to do it. This is right up my alley.
Getting energy from your working day
How does Sander look back on his first few months as a lecturer? “I definitely made the right choice. The collaboration – with the students, but also with my colleagues – is invigorating.
[Laughs] I think it’s important that your working day gives you energy. My approach is: let’s tackle this together and make something positive out of it. If something goes wrong, we will learn from it. I feel like I’m also given the room for that at Saxion.” Sander says that before getting started on the Basic Teaching Qualification (BDB), for example, Saxion gave him the opportunity to gain teaching experience first. “I was told they had full confidence in my ability to convey the material, on account of the experience and energy I brought with me from the professional field. But I am also excited about earning my teaching qualification. It will help me get a clearer idea how to build my lesson plans and what else you can get out of that.”
From Media Park to Saxion. A world of difference – or maybe it’s not so different after all? “I definitely see many parallels. In education, I also have to teach people that it’s not just about learning how to operate the equipment. It’s ultimately about communicating with each other and working as a team. And learning how to think in a way that is service and solution-oriented. How to rapidly shift gears. That is what I want to impress upon them. Even if they face difficulties in their future work, they still have to make sure the broadcast looks perfect.”
Inspired to have a discussion
Being able to pass on his knowledge and encourage the students to connect to their professional futures. This is what really motivates Sander. He thinks the professional field needs graduates who have acquired that professional mindset at the earliest possible stage of their training. The old hands in the field are particularly well positioned to help them with that, as lecturers, says Sander. “I hope that my story inspires others to talk to Saxion about this. Many people’s ideas about education are no longer accurate. And if you get involved, you can also help to affect change. Working in education opened up a whole new world for me.”
Photo: Thomas Busschers