Recognise and Reward
About the leadership programme ‘Building strong teams in education’
“These meetings felt like a gift to myself”
Jelle Tichelaar is a clinical pharmacologist, head of a large teaching team at the Department of Internal Medicine (Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc) and teacher at VU Amsterdam, including a lot of other work. Despite his full schedule, he decided to follow the 'Building strong teams in education’ programme in early 2022. A programme that focuses on leadership and team building in an educational setting. What insights has this brought him? And in what ways does the programme contribute to the extent to which he feels recognised and rewarded as an academic?
"I’m usually hesitant to sign up for training or courses because I always put team interests and what I have to do in the workplace ahead of my own development. Recently, however, I committed myself to undertaking an activity at least once a year for my personal growth. It gives me the opportunity to reflect on my actions and make adjustments where necessary."
I am responsible for all pharmacotherapy teaching within the six-year Internal Medicine programme at VUmc, where I focus on prescribing drugs to patients. I also supervise a team of 50 people consisting of pharmacotherapy teachers, teacher researchers (PhD students), student teachers and student coordinators of the student clinic."
Close ties with VU Amsterdam
"As project leader of all student clinic projects within VUmc, I work closely with VU Amsterdam. These are projects where students become responsible for patients' treatment plans early in their studies. We are currently setting up new, interdisciplinary clinics that do not focus purely on medication, as is traditionally the case. An example of such a new clinic is one for ex-cancer patients where we want students from the Medicine, Psychology, Theology, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy programmes to supervise real patients. Here too, we take a different approach, because as a rule, we often work with cases on paper. I also teach the subject Medicine at VU Amsterdam (Beta Faculty). It's great fun because I get to design it all by myself.”
"The 'Building strong teams in education' programme that I completed at the end of last year worked like a pause button for me and felt like a gift to myself. This was mainly because of the programme's set-up. For instance, we started all meetings with a check-in during which all participants shared openly, honestly and calmly how we were doing. All meetings took place at external locations, which gave you the feeling of really getting away from it all."
"I was not aware that many of my team members see autonomy, flexibility and (team) diversity as conditions for their job happiness."
"During the programme's content modules, we covered the five building blocks of (team) leadership, the basic needs of a well-functioning team: connectedness, autonomy, safety, recognising and rewarding and meaningfulness. After each meeting, I tested a building block within my own teaching team, during one-on-one conversations, team meetings, annual interviews and during our team day. Which building blocks do team members find most important and where can we make improvements? These questions delivered great, sometimes surprising insights for me. I knew, for instance, that employees like autonomy and flexibility at work, but I was not aware that many of my team members see these as conditions for their job happiness. The topic of (team) diversity also scores high in that respect. These are topics that, because of the programme, now receive even more attention within my team and that makes it practically very applicable."
"I feel recognised and rewarded in my work. That I was able to follow this programme reinforces that feeling."
Recognition and reward
"The focus of my work is on teaching. That is also the focus of my research, namely the form of teaching. I realise that teaching and research are at odds in many work situations. I personally do not experience this conflict, because my teaching (practice) and research follow each other cyclically; one is not separate from the other. I feel recognised and rewarded in my work. That I was able to follow this programme reinforces that feeling. A win-win situation, because ultimately my team reaps the benefits as well."
Kerstin Haemmerling - LEARN! Academy trainer within the 'Building strong teams in education' programme
"Within VU Amsterdam, there was a need to focus more on leadership and working in teaching teams. LEARN! already offers two programmes in this area: the Senior Qualification in Education (SKO) and the Educational Leadership Course (LOL). However, these programmes are extensive and therefore not easy for everyone to follow. In cooperation with Alies Zijlstra, external course leader and leadership coach, we therefore launched a pilot edition of the 'Building strong teams in education' programme in November 2021."
"The programme is aimed at university lecturers with a leadership role or task within teaching teams. This could include a coordinator or someone responsible for a particular teaching programme. The design of the programme is based on the new recognise and reward philosophy, where teamwork and leadership receive more attention. As a participant, you will learn to distinguish the different talents in your team and get tools for creating an environment in which people feel recognised and rewarded. The topics we cover are scientifically based and we use practical tools such as questionnaires for discussions with team members."
"The second edition of the programme featured a diverse participant group of VU colleagues and teaching professionals from ACTA and Amsterdam UMC (locations VUmc and AMC). People of all ages, with different working experiences. From starters to experienced academics, like Jelle. That was hugely enriching. We worked together on awareness: clearing heads to let in insights."
"In the context of LEARN! we strongly believe in developing leadership skills at all kinds of teaching levels and in all kinds of ways. Every teacher should master these skills. This programme aims to make the topic of leadership accessible to a wider audience and motivate teachers to do this in their own way."
Homage to the junior lecturer!
A dedicated space for VU junior lecturers was opened in the NU building in May 2022, at the initiative of LEARN! Academy. In this so-called Incubator, VU junior lecturers from all faculties can meet, exchange experiences and develop creative ideas. It is also the place on campus where they can further develop their teaching and overall career. They can follow various workshops and professionalisation programmes, such as 'virtual reality in education', 'group dynamics' and 'mixed classroom' sessions.
Maiza Campos Ponce, Associate Professor and one of the initiators of the incubator: "The Incubator helps us to put VU junior lecturers in the spotlight. They are incredibly important for our university because of their fresh perspectives and innovative strength, although they do not always get the proper recognition and appreciation yet. By offering them this spot, LEARN! Academy hopes to contribute to this. Junior lecturers are welcome every Thursday all day, and they can drop in for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea, request training information, work in an inspiring environment, and play air hockey to relax a bit."