Pepijn Bodegom

Pepijn Bodegom, ITEps alumnus, feels right at home in an international environment. In fact, the teacher in the primary department of the International School Haarlem has felt very much at home there for years.


”I love the mix of stories and cultures in the classroom”

“My grandma worked in an international school and I loved listening to the stories she told. It was how I knew that I wanted to teach, and I soon realized that I wanted to teach in an international environment. Working in an international school really is fantastic because you keep finding out about new cultures, with different stories and different traditions. I was already enthused by all the different languages and nationalities during my studies but now see all that variety in practice: amongst the pupils, but also amongst the staff. Our different backgrounds mean we all have a different style and way of teaching and that’s very inspiring.”

I know what can worry a pupil – I’ve been there myself

“As a student, I did internships in Italy and Sweden, and I lived for a short time in Australia, so I know what it’s like to be an expat in a different country for a while, how it feels to arrive in a country knowing that you’re going to be leaving again in a few months. I think that’s why I can create a safe environment in the classroom. I know what can worry the pupils and I can respond to them because I understand what it’s like to switch environments. A sense of security is important for young children and that sense of trust is very important.

For instance, it could be that a child doesn’t yet have a particular skill, or they simply don’t know the English term for something, or that the system at their previous school was different. This all has an effect and means the levels within a class are often wider than in a regular Dutch school. It’s an area that I can now adapt to in the lesson and sometimes pay particular attention to.”

Eye contact – good or bad mannered?

“I really enjoy teaching, but it’s sometimes takes some figuring out. A little while back there was a boy in my class who would never look directly at me. I couldn’t understand why. It turns out he wasn’t being bad mannered; in his culture it’s a sign of respect to not look directly at a person. It just took some figuring out. It’s like a puzzle putting together so many different cultures in the class, combining them with the culture of the country where you work and then trying to create as safe an environment as possible for the pupils. An international school is the perfect place for me to be able to do this.”