Yassar bakes very tasty cakes but prefers to stand in front of a classroom full of pupils

Yassar (38) is completing an MBO-BBL education and is doing an internship as a teaching assistant at IKC Hoge Hoeve in Westervoort. She has a university degree and has worked as a teacher in Syria for nearly ten years. In 2015 she fled with her husband, their two children and her youngest sister and came to the Netherlands. She now has a third child and lives with her family in Duiven.


Yassar: “I am doing an internship as a teaching assistant at toddler groups 1 & 2. I think it is nice, instructive and good to improve my Dutch. I am never alone in front of the class, always with the teacher. Even when I will get my diploma, I will still not be allowed to stand alone in front of the class. I regret that. During ten years in Syria I supervised classes of 30 to 35 students on my own. I taught all subjects: math, biology, Arabic, geography, history. That is why this training is a first step for me. After MBO I will continue to HBO or to PABO. I have not yet decided whether I want to become a subject teacher or a teacher at a primary school.”

“I had to get used to giving and receiving feedback.”

I learn and there is room for my own ideas

“In the beginning I found it difficult. Because of the language barrier, but also because of the Dutch way of communicating. For example, I had to get used to giving and receiving feedback. I got help from my career coach and things are going much better now. My supervisor at school gives me valuable advice and tips. I learn from her and there is room to contribute my own vision and ideas. I can choose what I want to do with the children. I send her an email every Friday evening with my weekly plan. I’m good at writing emails because of all the emails I sent before I started this course: job applications, emails to the municipality, to my children’s school and to countless other institutions.”

Everything is different here

“Everything is different from what I’m used to. In Syria, teachers use books to teach. Each group has a specific book for each subject and we teach by these books. In the Netherlands there is no fixed curriculum. Work is based on learning objectives. As a teacher you have to devise activities yourself, select them, prepare material and you have to check whether it fits the group and the theme you are working on. Preparing lessons takes a lot of time but I enjoy the freedom and the possibility to be creative. It is a great opportunity for self-development. I think it is good that the individual needs of the children are taken into account here.”

“I enjoy the freedom and the possibility to be creative. It is a great opportunity for self-development.”

Contact with colleagues and parents

“At school there are children from many different countries. But the majority of teachers are Dutch. During the break I meet my colleagues, but until now I didn’t dare to talk much with them. I still think my Dutch is not good enough. I listen and try to understand as much of the conversations as possible. For the same reason I don’t have much contact with the parents yet. I want to change that as soon as possible and build a good relationship with parents. When they come to pick up the children, I would like to tell them what we have done in class, how their child is doing. It is important.”

Intake at NewBees

“The first three years in the Netherlands I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t take the language classes seriously enough and barely made any progress. Two and a half years ago I came into contact with NewBees in Arnhem. I went for an intake interview and followed a number of workshops. My matcher helped me find this internship. My advice to other newcomers: don’t wait, take the language classes seriously and actively look for organizations that can help you on your way to a job.”

“I haven’t decided yet whether I want to become a subject teacher or a teacher at a primary school.”

To teach or to bake cakes?

“If I weren’t a teacher, I’d bake cakes and cookies. I’m very good at that and I really enjoy doing it. I would have a small food truck and bake and sell tasty things. But now I don’t have time. I want to complete my education. If all goes well, I will receive my diploma in February 2023. After that, I hope to get a paid job at this or another school and continue with the next training.”

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