Future employers in Europe do have Hope

Future employers in Europe do have Hope

Mental health issues are on the rise among the students on vocational education, we all share. Vocational education in Europe is changing and it also increases insecurity like every big change does. People attached with vocational education need time to adapt to these big changes.

Teach2Heal New teaching & learning in Mental Health -project had a kick off meeting in Turnhout, Belgium.  Experts in vocational education and training from 4 different countries Belgium, Denmark, Finland and The Czech Republic were gathered together to start a new Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Project (KA2) to develop vocational education and training.

Poor mental health and self-management skills influence how students learn, whether they finish their degrees, but also impacts on how students will manage their future professions. Good self-management skills will help the students feel and be more productive in their studies. Such skills as problem solving, resisting stress, communicating clearly, managing time, strengthening memory, and exercising often are all key examples of self-management skills. Students need good self-management skills to have balanced future in their future careers.

Teach2Heal, New teaching & learning in Mental Health

As already mentioned, vocational education in Europe is changing. Two of the participant countries in the project Denmark and Finland have already gone through the reform in vocational education and training. Belgium develops vocational education on its own solid quality by collecting the best practices from other European countries and sharing their own ones to others. The Czech Republic has their focus on developing an open society and they will bring the valuable perspective of developing co-operation between education providers and work places. All the participants are eager to meet today’s needs and aspirate for the future.

Vocational teachers need to be experts in teaching and learning among studying and exploring. They need to be experts in their sector specialism. Vocational teachers need to be trustworthy, team players, team teachers who respects others around. They need to have a good reflective ability and to be keen on evolving that. They must be specialists on creating an atmosphere where collective aspiration can be set free and people are keen to learn from each other. They must be explorers who want to find out the best out of everyone. To be able to reach all this, they need guidelines, coaching and support.

Teach2Heal, New teaching & learning in Mental Health -project offers help, among guidelines and peer support to teachers on its 3-year period. The goals of the project are to develop different approaches to raising students and teachers´ awareness of mental health problems and increase their reflective ability and self-management skills. Experts in the project will develop reflective teaching as a futures teaching method, increase teachers motivation and enthusiasm for one’s work and improve contacts with working life. The focus will be in adopting a new mindset that will help people in the project to open themselves up to the growth among inspiring teachers, students and people in the work places to see teaching and learning in new light.

Erasmus plus Strategic partneship project

Recovery thinking will give the framework to the work

Recovery thinking will involve students among teachers to see their strengths and that they are capable of affecting their learning, teaching, and entire lives. To develop mental health, and self-management skills students need to have a sense of their own capability and their own power. Same is with developing new teaching. Both students and teachers need to shift their focus on things they can do for themselves rather than what someone else will discover for them.

This new Erasmus+ project is acting to tackle mental health problems on vocational education and raise well-being among the students and teachers. During times of insecurity and despair, when mental health problems are very common, everyone needs a sense of hope, a sense that things can and will get better. Without hope, there is nothing to look forward to and no real possibility for positive action. Hope is a great motivator, but for hope to be truly motivating, it must be more than just an ideal. It must take form as an actual, reasonable vision of what things could look like if they were to improve.

To get empowered and to be able to develop and learn new methods of teaching and learning, students and teachers need encouragement to start focusing on their strengths. They need people who inspire, support and believe in them before they are confident enough to believe in themselves.

Text and photos Annele Heikkilä

Give credit where credit is due

Give credit where credit is due

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Sounds obvious but it does not always happen. Especially in highly hierarchical organizations, people often think they get credit based on their power, not their actual contributions. And that is the crossing where all can go just wrong.

I think we all are responsible to change this — not just with our friends and family but in all the occasion, we face people. What we can do?

Pay attention at people around you, who you meet, your colleagues, people in your organization and give feedback. Make sure that the right people are getting the right credit for the right reasons at the right time. Be an explorer who want to find out the best out of everyone.

Credit team members for crediting one another. Good idea is to incentivize your team members to acknowledge and appreciate others’ contributions. This “expansion” of credit enhances team cohesion and trust, promoting more and better collaboration. Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas.

Show them the way

Crediting system that increases brain wellbeing

Very simple method to develop greater happiness and better self-confidence on others is to credit others. Create experiences for them, which help these good mental states become good neural traits. This is taking in the good: activating a positive experience and installing it in brain. You must be honest and truthful, fake won’t matter.

In my team at work, we are excited about brain wellbeing and our ability to increase it by our actions. We like to symbolically reward people who are for to credit. We have created rewarding system that supports brain wellbeing. The brain is the organ that learns, so it’s designed to be changed by experiences. What we repeatedly sense and feel is slowly but surely sculpting brain wellbeing.  Positive feedback will leave an enduring imprint in our brains. Your mind is actually building your brain every day. So why not to have an influence on other peoples brain and brain wellbeing among creating the world the better place.

In my team, we have a certificate that says, “Well done”. You can receive the certificate whenever you have done something remarkable, or have finished something before deadline, or just survived trough a rough day, or just been adorable, kind and good to others. You can also give the certificate to yourself whenever you feel like it! Among the certificate, we also like to credit each other with spontaneous feedback for example by saying something as simple as “That was very great what you just said…”

Reflection in relationship has been described as a process that helps to turn experience into knowledge. We need more information where we are good at, what are our own strengths in someone else’s opinion. This way we can turn these experiences into knowledge and start to believe that we are good on something, we are capable on things that we are doing and we will have possibility to do more. To be able to be a reflective person who creates reflective atmosphere is not something we are born with, it is a learnable ability and it develops in discussions with other more advanced minds. It allows us to develop ourselves among it tempts us to continuous lifelong learning.

Together we can do it.jpg

Thank you for inspiring me!

Good trustworthy feedback, credit what you have done or achieved motivates you, pushes you to accomplish the tasks you are expected to do. It also pulls you towards something that stirs your heart and mind. It gives you the feeling that will support you to get the best out of yourself. A reflective person is not afraid of other one’s wisdom and knowledge vice versa they celebrate the brains that they have in their company, they love to give the credit for the ones it belongs to.

When we are filled with inspiration we don´t need external motivation to move forward, we will move forward. So why not to inspire each other’s, to get the best out of everyone. I get highly inspired by trustworthy feedback. It melts my heart and builds my self-confidence. I love to learn from others as well I’m happy to give feedback and credit to others.

The most important thing is that an atmosphere is created safe, where collective aspiration can be set free and we all are keen to learn from each other. This demands trust, believing and respect. Good, respectful relationship engages me to expand my thinking, to increase knowledge of what I might be lacking.

People with good basic trust are more likely to think optimistic and credits others. Basic trust is build in early interaction with a child and their care giver. It is an implicit trust that what is optimal will happen and a person believes whatever happens will ultimately be fine. It is the confidence that reality is ultimate good, and all that exists, are by their very nature trustworthy. Basic trust gives an implicit orientation toward all circumstances and that allows us to relax and see situations as learning opportunities.

As well as we can create optimistic learning atmosphere, we have huge impact on developing a basic trust if it´s needed. Basic trust can be developed in trustful and respectful relationship. We can reflect security, build trust and create permissive learning atmosphere where other people can relax, learn to act and be in securely attached in ways that are needed in life.

The more we create basic trust, optimism in people’s lives, the more process of transforming and realizing and becoming flows more smoothly. Building the basic trust can lead people to feel that they are good, valuable, worthwhile and lovable. Quite powerful!

As well as basic trust can be developed, optimistic thinking and crediting others is learnable. We know that the mind can be trained into new habits of thoughts and that those who learn optimism can obtain all of the benefits associated with that attribution style. In order to cultivate an optimistic thinking and crediting others, a person must work to change their pessimistic explanatory style to a more optimistic one and to be more willing to see other´s success.

Text Annele Heikkilä

Photos from Unplash: Wang Johnson, Oliver Easton, Helena Lopes

 

Think a cross-disciplinary way in Finnish vocational education

Think a cross-disciplinary way in Finnish vocational education

Harry Beck unlocked the most complicated problem in his time. He created London underground map to what we see today. Linear, color-coded diagram, map that is not actually a map anymore. Beck’s map was revolutionary in its simplicity. I love simple lines, good architecture and design and I have always been fascinated by London underground map. Beck has helped us to see multilayered, bustling and diverse London in simple, comprehensible form. By London underground map we get the feeling: I can manage this city!

Finnish vocational education has gone trough significant changes. People involved with vocational education are invited to a change. Even though the reform seems like the most complicated problem in this time, it´s possible.  We need people who want to see the result in different form that it has been.

I see reform as a possibility to create new map of education. Why not to follow Becks principles when creating new in vocational education.

  • Focus, who you are doing it for
  • Simplicity
  • Thinking a cross-disciplinary way

 

With these principles we can create a map that empowers the feeling I can manage this! Map of the Finnish vocational education and training looks like this at the moment. (minedu.fi)

OKM uusi ammatillinen koulutus englanti

The reform in Finnish vocational education will strengthen vocational competence in Finland. It will increase possibilities to study at workplaces and students´ individual competence needs can be met flexibly with the help of qualifications. Reform  promotes students’ access to employment and by offering high quality education for them it supports smooth transition to further studies.

Hop along to unlock the most complicated problem in this time and you´ll realize it is just a big wonderful challenge to create something new and revolutionary!

Text Annele Heikkilä

Photo provided by Pexels

New vocational education and training minedu.fi

 

More me when abroad

More me when abroad

It´s been a while since I have been working with my international colleagues and I have to admit I really miss working in different countries with different people and using different languages. To be honest my last work trip abroad was in October and it seems like forever ago to me. Even though I work in an international atmosphere every day I miss that certain feeling that I have when working abroad.

I have been thinking why I´m so keen on internationalization and meeting new people who come from different cultures and countries.  It is obvious that travelling and working abroad enables me to develop new skills, languages, cultural awareness, social skills but among those I have realized I´m more alert when abroad. I have to focus on language and different cultural habits, but that alertness takes me there what I believe is the reason why I truly love international work.

I believe when I´m working in different challenging situations I´m taken out of my comfort zone, some people find it awkward and unpleasant, especially when they have to work with another language than their own. Instead I find it rewarding and I find myself more true to myself and others. This only tells my story where I come from, why I feel this way and can´t be generalized.

I believe when I´m working out of my comfort zone I´m more likely to drawing strength and security inside of myself. I´m using basic trust that has been given to me on my early childhood. Basic trust is built in early interaction with a child and their care giver. It is an implicit trust that is optimal will happen and a person believes whatever happens will ultimately be fine. It is the confidence that reality is ultimately good, and all that exists, are by their very nature trustworthy. Basic trust gives an implicit orientation towards all circumstances and that allows people to relax and see situations as learning opportunities. Basic trust can be developed in trustful and respectful relationships. Yes, I´m thankful for my early childhood, it has had a remarkable meaning in my life. It has given me the orientation to my life. But why am I so keen on working abroad and with different languages?

When a child feels good about themselves, it sets them up for success. When you are able to carry on this feeling in your life it takes you there.

You can´t choose the family you are born into. I was born in very board-minded, accepting and international one. My mom was sent abroad when she was 16, of course her family had international connections and they had the experience that travelling and meeting other people from different cultures brought some interesting extra into their lives. My grandfather had lived abroad a great part of his adult life, before he was ready to settle down and start a family. So, I was sent abroad when I turned 16 and so was my daughter. In that age of 16 you are vulnerable, but eager to experience. This allows you to a straight and forthcoming connection to who you are, how will your basic trust take over and carry you trough out your life. I was able to have that experience that whatever will happen will ultimately be fine. I had an experience that reality was ultimately good, I could trust myself and find different circumstances trustworthy, but you must remember that this belief had been built in me already.  I could relax and see situations as learning opportunities and that way I also learned from life among new culture and language.

Later on, when I graduated from college it was obvious to me to start my career abroad and I did. I wanted to be contacted to that feeling of vulnerability and confidence at the same time. I have a feeling that when you are forced to that vulnerability you are more open to who you are, you are more you. This is the reason  I enjoy working abroad, being more me, learning more about myself. At the same time, being vulnerable and having this straight and forthcoming connection to who you are, it gives you all the information about yourself. Positive and negative. How you handle all this information is based on your reflective ability.

Reflective ability is a quintessential human capacity that is needed to be able to successfully navigate the information flood that you have inside of you, all the feelings, actions and their co-operation or disconnections. It is learnable process and can be developed through out your life.

You should ask thoughtful reflective questions from yourself to reflect on your actions. When you are merciful and compassionate towards yourself, even how odd and outrageous your actions can be, you will help yourself probe deeper to your complexity and this will encourage you to better self-reflection. Just always pause and ask, why I´m acting this way. Simple as that…

Thoughtful questions to yourself will help you move forward with focus and intent. Trough out these inner conversations you will gain confidence and become more skilled at working through tough problems without hurting yourself or people around you. You will start to spread an atmosphere that allows you among other people to grow towards more aware and better people.

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In two weeks my longing will be over. I will catch the plane and head towards Köln, Germany, to work, but most of all to be more connected to myself. I know I will have situations that I have no clue how the handle them, but I know I can trust myself. I know that whatever will happen will ultimately be fine.

Text Annele Heikkilä

Photo Lia Heikkilä

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do what you love – love what you do

Who am I to do what I want to do?

Why is that? How wrong I was. I had seen my own mother working as a teacher my whole childhood and I thought that it is not what I wanted. It was because I had a stereotypical picture of a teachers job. I did not think of what I could do as a teacher nor what I wanted to do as a teacher. A lot has happened in the world ever since and a lot has changed in me also during that period of time. What I am happy about today is that I actually am a teacher, coach and a mentor today. But, did I back that time know what I wanted to do or be? No I didn’t know. The help I got from the school or from home didn’t really help me much because I simply didn’t know myself well enough.

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I wish I could forward my students today something that I have learned during the journey into myself. I don’t mean anything they can Google or learn from the books but something totally different. What is it then that I could or maybe should teach them? Self-knowledge maybe? Self-knowledge is something that should be taught. Yes I know, it sounds rediculous and maybe even stupid but it is true. Many of us people in the world of today don’t know who we are nor what we want to be or do. We follow our peers, parents, relatives, authorities or we fulfill some kind of obligations (specially youth at schools). Unfortunatelly I say so and I also mean it. It is lost energy, lost potential, lost resources and lost selfhood at worst. So who am I and what do I want are relevant questions.

How do I do that – teach self-knowledge? There are for sure as many ways of doing that as there are teachers. I start with asking my students who are you, what can you do or what are you good at? An awful difficult questions for being so simple ones you might think. Then I continue with what would you like to be better at? But still one of the most important things after knowing what I can do and what I can’t do is though what do I dream about. What would I wish to do the most in my life? Now we are talking about personal skills and abilities. What could I do with my own personal skills and abilities and then if or when I know what I want to do what would I have to learn to be able to fulfill my own dreams? I believe that the motivation for learning something I know that I want to learn and that I need to know is better than just learning something in storage. Even learning something that I am not fully interested in is easier with a motivation for that than without it.

Where would we be and what would we do if we were doing something we really want and love to do? It would be hundred times easier to forgive ourselves a mistake or a failure than it is otherwise. By the way, doing something even if it was a failure is better than doing nothing. By a failure you at least gain with experience but doing nothing weakens everything and not least your self-respect. The treshold grows bigger and bigger to start with anything after a while. Of course we need good experiences and we will get some by doing something. That is why I recommend you to learn to know yourself. To know what you can do and what you want to do, then it is easier to start doing something.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE
LOVE WHAT YOU DO

What do I gain from doing what I love and loving what I do? Better self-confidence which again allows me easier to accept that I can’t or won’t always succeed. I make mistakes but it is not the whole world to fail. I can also learn to be glad about failing. We all do mistakes. I am a valuable person anyway and I am not judged because of my mistakes and even if I was judged it doesn’t matter. I can and will take it and make it further. My good self-esteem allows me my own mistakes because I am doing what I love so I can love what I am doing no matter what happens. I can proudly stand for what I do.

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Would world be a more beautiful place to live at when we do what we love and love what we do? In my opinion yes. More positive attitude with an ownership of what you are doing than without it. Decide what it is you want to do and then start working for that and do it. Don’t think of all the reasons for not succeeding but all the possibilities what succeeding will bring you.

I can not always choose what I am doing but mainly I can. I do what I love, what I am good at and I can use my strengths. I am positive to what I am doing and I learn something new every day in my life. I do not succeed with everything that I am doing but I know that it is not even possible to succeed always. I am blessed and thankful that I can do what I love so I can love what I do.

I encourage you to DO WHAT YOU LOVE ❤️ you have more to give and more to get. Be positive – life is not always easy but when you know what you’re doing and you’re doing it, it is easier to LOVE WHAT YOU DO ❤️

Written by Natascha Skog

Photo by Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

 

 

 

Inspired By a Leader

Inspired By a Leader

I have earlier written about insecure leaders. Now I think I should write about other kind of leaders and about my own experiences of being led. I have to admit I´m quite fascinated about my organizations head leader´s ideas, how he thinks that reflective  interaction requires good self-esteem. He says that we should not hide or forget ourselves under the constant hurry. If we forget ourselves there is a concern that we will loose our contact to ourselves. We become more drifting personalities thinking that if we fill our days with e-mails, social media or other stimulations that make us look busy, people will respect us and we become more valuable. Drift is a choise one does without decision and it may unleash consequences for which one doesn’t take responsibility. Drift might sound small, but once unleashed, drift is a powerful, often almost unstoppable, force. Are we too afraid to ask ourselves, how we are?

Reflection in relationship and in leadership has been described as a process that helps to turn experience into knowledge. To be able to be a reflective person who creates reflective atmosphere is not something we are born with, it is a learnable ability and it develops in discussions with other more advanced minds.

I have found that there are atleast three different kinds of leaderships: motivational, inspiring and reflecting one.

Motivational leader motivates you, pushes you to accomplish the tasks you are expected to do. But you might need motivation to be pushed, maybe you would rather be doing anything else. We can be motivated by result not the journey.

Inspiring leader instead pulls you towards something that stirs your heart and mind. Inspiring leaders know that the most effective way to enroll followers is to clearly articulate what the leaders believe in, why they exist, and where they are going.

A reflective leader supports employees to get the best out of themselves. They allows employees to ‘hear’ their own thoughts and to focus on what they say and feel, they encourag employees to a conversation that leads to brainstorming, changing ideas and growing. Reflective leaders shows the employees that they are trying to perceive the world as employees see it and that they are doing their best to understand their messages. A reflective leader is not afraid of their employee’s wisdom and knowledge vice versa they celebrate the brains that they have in their company, they also give the credit for the ones it belongs to.

We can be inspired by a person, an atmosphere, or surroundings. I think we have different ways to get inspired. When we are filled with inspiration we don´t need external motivation to move forward, we will move forward. People who are lacking clear vision often need external motivation to keep themselves moving forward. Motivation or inspiration is not enough. We also need reflection to be able to grow, learn more from ourselves and our underlying emotions and interpersonal behaviors.

I get inspired by good conversations, (Of course surroundings too, I´m aesthetician.) talks where I can feel comfortable, be visible as who I am. An atmosphere is created where collective aspiration can be set free and somebody is keen to learn from me as I´m from them. This demands trust, believing and respect. Good, respectful relationship engages me to expand my thinking, to increase knowledge of what I might be lacking.

Last week I had a good conversation with my leader. If I exaggerate a bit the main content of our conversation was that he was interested how I felt myself in my team and that I´m free to do what ever I want to. I underline exaggerating, but the message to me was clear: I´m trusted and respected. As a professional I know my limits and they were discussed, but the feeling of freedom inspires me to do my best.

The conversation had reflective point of view. It included self-observation and self-evaluation and as we know this will lead to better self-awareness and confidence. When you are invited to collect information about yourself and your way of working, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, it helps you to identify and explore your own practices and underlying beliefs. This will lead to changes and improvements in working. Reflective leading therefore means professional development which begins in a dialogue with the employee.

Tiny little things to do to get the best out of the employee, but so meaningful and so hard if you are lacking reflective ability. I´m very easygoing person, I´m easy to please and easy to lead, but it must be done in a transparent, honest way. I must be able to trust that purpose is genuine. It is known that low levels of reflective ability have been associated with insensitive and emotionally unresponsive behaviors (e.g., withdrawal, hostility, intrusiveness, and distorted perceptions of affective communication). Reflective ability is a mental process thought to be invoked in the interpretation of human action (i.e., the attribution of personal meaning and intention to others’ behavior).

I must say I have different experiences being lead. Of course I have, I started my career in 90s. One of my bosses on my way has become my dearest friend and an otherone is helping me on my career what ever I have decided to do, he supports me no matter how crazy ideas I get! That I call trusting!

I have also met leaders who have not taken responsibility of their behaviors and actions. When you are lead by a very insecure leader you also become insecure, the reflection tells you, that you are not good enough, not accepted nor trusted. Your purpose is doubted no matter how hard you try. The creativity is killed and you will start to drift, there is no energy to think other options.

Reflective ability reveals unsafe patterns and disrespectful ways of leadership. It helps individuals to understand that emotions influence interactions. Ability of thinking reflectively helps to clarify the cause and effects relations between underlying emotions and interpersonal behaviors. May be, if you are too torn, you have no courage to do anything for the situation. You either defer or give up and resign.

The more reflective and respectful a leader can be, the more reflective and respectful their employes will be. The more reflective  leaders can be the more they can learn from the employees, because they knows they can trust the employees´ reflections. Reflective leaders motivate and inspire employees´ in powerful way because it involves personal growth.

Written by Annele Heikkilä

Photos Lia Heikkilä

Spontaneus after work discussion

Spontaneus after work discussion

As we have mentioned earlyer we found after work discussions very evolving. On friday we met for a late lunc or should I call it a dunch after work. We had an inspirational conversation about our future plans and dreams among personal life updates.

We also discussed about what have we gained participating to different Erasmus+ projects. We have noticed that participating to international projects enables us to develop new skills; we have been able to get to know first-hand information of another European educational system, learn and share new ideas and explore the best practices to take back to Finland. We also have learned a lot from ourselves. Video was shot on a whim, totally spontaneus.

 

Video Laura Nikkanen, editing Annele Heikkilä