Think a cross-disciplinary way

Think a cross-disciplinary way

 

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.

Finnish vocational education is under big 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

 

Map of the Finnish vocational education and training looks like this at the moment.

OKM uusi ammatillinen koulutus englanti

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

Underneath our clothes we are all equal!

Underneath our clothes we are all equal!

There are no job titles when it comes to the ladies dressing room. I assume it is the same in the males dressing rooms, but having never visited, I can´t tell. I love the  truthfulness of the Finnish culture. Finland is one of the world’s leading countries in fostering gender equality and we are proud of it. My male foreign friends usually make jokes about Finnish woman and how independent they are. I think the jokes are very funny and so true! We do love to carry our own luggage to show how independent we are, and that is worth joking about!

Finland was the first country to grant women full political rights. Gender equality has generated renewal and prosperity in our society, as the contribution of both women and men has been accessible. Finland propels a worldwide commitment to gender equality, but maybe not all women in the world need to carry their luggage to show their equality. Good advice towards other cultures is that pick good habits, leave poor.

Not only the gender equality, but equality itself is very important to us Finns. We are not that thrilled of hierarchy. We like to solve the problems with a non-hierarchical way in workplaces and in general. You can say that we lack of hierarchy, but there actually are hierarchical structures in Finnish workplaces and they vary from field to field. Hierarchy is often suppressed. Hierarchy is indicated with small, often tacit gestures. The power position is based on the demands and the responsibility of a job description and also on how much the work community respects and appreciates the person’s input and expertise. A person’s position is not dependent on age or gender. In Finland we find it very important to show respect to all workers, no matter what their position is.

Back to the ladies dressing room. I meet different women on different mornings in our joint dressing room. Some of us cycle to work, some run, some walk, but we come with a hurry so we all need a shower. Nudity in Finnish culture is as truthful as our equality. Underneath our clothes we are all equal. In a dressing room we are all equal in dignity and we act towards one another in a spirit of sisterhood.

While showering and dressing up we like to talk about todays politics, religions, even money and every one of us has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We are very interested about other opinions and ways of seeing things. We feel the atmosphere and the environment is safe. The thing that makes us very Finnish is that even though we are enjoying our equal conversations and interaction we are very time orientated. We Finns follow a strict concept of time – especially at work. We respect the thought that our daily working hours are based on a contract. If the meeting in the morning is announced to begin at 9 a.m. we will be there a couple minutes before. Being late may happen, but it is not socially acceptable. Being on time shows respect towards the others. This means that these morning talks are not that long, as well as there is no long showers in Finnish workplaces. We dress up, but some lipstick and wish each other pleasant work day and off we go.

How this differences in other cultures? Even we talk very deeply about difficult subjects, we reveal our deepest thoughts about the subjects, but we don’t know each other by name! We are just a lady who cycles with cool cycling glasses on or that lady who runs 10k back and forth from work.

In Finland we shake hands when we meet a person for the first time, but not when you enter the dressing room. We also introduce ourselves when we greet, but we probably don´t remember actively their names we meet. Names are not that important in our culture. Greetings in general in Finland differences from other countries. It is polite to greet when you pass somebody at work place, but – unlike in many other countries – it is not necessary to address everybody when you arrive and leave work. Shaking hands is the most common and preferred way of greeting in formal situations. You can hug, but it shows you really know the one you hug very well. Hugs and kisses belongs to a relationship. Kisses on a cheek is an international way of greeting people, but we never remember which cheek to start with, so we might end up kissing you straight on your lips!

We Finns have a desire to be likable so we are open to all international ways of greet and meet. We do love to copy the good habits from other cultures, so you probably will end up seeing very many different ways to greet.

You might have heard that Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to a United Nations (UN) report. Among the happiest there is another study that says Finland is the best place to work in Europe. I agree, and add that it is definitely the most easy country to shower with your not know colleagues!

Text and photos Annele Heikkilä

 

 

 

Modernize teaching, think global!

Modernize teaching, think global!

A key principle when creating new ways of teaching and coaching is to think global. Student mobility is visible part of internationalization when it comes to educational field. We must remember that not all students are willing or able to spend time abroad and same is with staff members. Strengthening and embedding internationalization on campus is therefore more important than ever. This means building reliable links between the organizations, and making internationalization real and meaningful for wider society. This challenges us, who are eager to think global.

People behind Icebath are all very keen on internationalization and like to think global. We have participated in different Erasmus+ projects and find that a very helpful way to develop our teaching among organization.

In Sofia Bulgaria

What have we gained during our Erasmus+ mobilities? Now I´m mainly talking about Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Projects (KA2 projects). We have noticed that travelling and working abroad 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 have been inspired by new colleagues and we have been able to refresh our thinking to create new approaches to teaching.  Every time when we have returned from our mobilities we have been enthused and motivated. Therefore we have been integrating teachers who are not that keen on involving international projects to hop along and participate to staff trainings or other project meetings or events. Feedback from them has only been positive. I assume, everybody is keen on learning from others and meeting interesting people, sometimes you just need a gentle push to step out of your comfort zone.

While participating to Strategic Partnership Projects the growth will take a place in your brains and mindset and it will lead to the point of no return. Once this shift has happened, your whole world changes. And among that you will change the whole world. You just notice nothing becomes impossible to you.

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Finland’s educational system has undergone several changes during the past few years. Among the educational system teaching is under big changes too and the way teachers update their knowledge and competences is finding new ways and routines. Many education providers prefer the 70:20:10 model for learning and development. This model holds that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

The 70:20:10 model endorses Erasmus+ Strategic partnership projects where all the learning and developing is based on cooperation for innovation and the exchanging of good practices. These projects make it possible for organizations from different participating countries to work together, to develop, share and transfer best practices and innovative approaches in the fields of education and training.

You actually don’t need new ideas, you need a new perspective!

If you are eager to explore, grow and live life with learning as a lifestyle ideology participating to strategic partnership projects is perfect solution for you. Participating staff to mobilities allows the professional development of the individual teacher. It is an integral part of the internationalization of organization among attached organizations and networks. Participating staff to mobilities is very important for advancing and supporting student mobility. Staff that have good relations and networks abroad know the added value of being mobile and are more likely to support students in becoming mobile themselves. Teachers with an international experience add an international dimension into their teaching and thus foster an international outlook among the great majority of students who will never have the chance to go abroad themselves.

Changing lives, opening minds

We underline life-skills that students need, but as well as students need to develop on life-skills, we need that too. Strategic partnership projects will persuade you to gain valuable life-skills and international experience to help you develop personally and professionally and to succeed in today’s world. As well as boosting your skills and employability you are also in the spot where you can pick great ideas to update education and teaching in your country among the countries you visit. I call it a hotspot!

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Personally, I have gained valuable experience out of participating in these projects. I have improved and gained language skills among enhanced my self-confidence for taking steps out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to talk in front of people in English. I believe the best way of learning and developing in languages is to use them proudly. It sure will help increase your confidence among the language skills!

I have developed my cultural awareness and open mindedness, even though I always thought I´m a person with these skills. Oh boy, was I wrong! There have been so many so good and interesting conversations with other people I have met. I did not know how differently we can think and see things. One of the most interesting a-haa moment to me was when one of my international colleague mentioned that she finds it very bizarre and even very personal that I can post pictures of myself wearing woolen socks to Facebook, she never would do that. I also didn´t realize how differently we think about equality, how point-blank, direct and even offensive I can sound when being a very Finnish woman participating to conversations. I have got good feedback from my colleagues that they would never dare or even would want to comment like I did. These are very precious moments to pause and reflect on. Little did I know how people can hide their personalities among sexualities, because of the way they are treated in their countries. I thought I knew, but I didn´t, not until I had a conversation with a person who told me to my face how they felt.  I could go on with the cultural awareness and open mindedness I have gained, thank God it has been me who has been send to abroad trough Erasmus+ projects! To learn.

I also have gained vital new skills required for new teaching. All those conversations with colleagues from different countries, how they teach and see education. I have realized that changing ideas and creating common comprehension of case is very inspiring and allows us to gain knowledge in new subjects or in teaching methods. This will increase motivation to develop and learn, and will lead automatically developing personally and professionally.

And what comes to my network I have gained! I have gathered a beautiful network of professionals from all over the world, some of whom I call my friends. Working in this network has been great for sharing ideas and knowledge. I have received and given feedback. I have been able to discuss my point of view, they have helped me to expand my knowledge and allowed me to see things from another perspective.

Meeting these great people have given me opportunities that I would have never gotten. I have had wonderful dinners in different countries in people’s homes or wineries or beautiful restaurants. To me, one of the greatest thing to realize is that I have not just gained exposure to the people I have met, but I have been building connections with their network too. They have introduced me to wonderful connections that I meet with success. This has not been just a one-way street. I also have matched people to my network and been thrilled to have been able to create great new opportunities to people I have connected.

Participating to Erasmu+ projects has given me change to leave my insecurities behind. It is always refreshing to step out from your ordinary zone and be visible and getting noticed in front of people you don’t know. This is a big benefit for your personal growth. For daring and learning you need other people. People who see you, trust your competences and give you a space and time to progress. This can help you build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person who you are instead of hiding under your dubious, uncertain, doubtful thoughts. People will enjoy your certitude and reliability for sure.

Every time when I´m seated on an airplane heading towards an Erasmus+ destination I tell myself how fortuned I´m.  I just can’t wait what new I will explore, learn  and how will I refresh my thinking about teaching during this journey.

 

Written Annele Heikkilä

Photos from Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Project