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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUST, BELIEVE AND LET GO

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If I know who I am, what I know or can and what I want, is it easier for me then to make a plan how to get there where I want to be? We assume that self-confident students know maybe better what they want but not necessarily how to get there. In schools we teachers believe that when we teach the students will learn. The students need guidance but also good experiences of success. We teach but do we encourage and give enough good feedback? Does our students get the feelings of good experiences and success often enough?

Trusting someone means that you need to know the person well enough. Do we as teachers know our students on secondary vocational school level well enough? I would say no, in that sense what is meant here. Trusting yourself to my mind means that you need to know yourself and you need to be somewhat self-confident. Trusting in your students means that you need to know them as persons. The vocational school reform in Finland is pushing teachers to a situation where the only possibility to teach or coach your students and make a personal plan for the student is to learn to know them personally. To learn to know them personally well enough.

Project learning, entrepreneurial methods and close co-operation with companies e.g. order from a company or working life partner are methods used. These kind of methods insist that the teacher knows whom to place where to do what. So that you can trust and believe that the order will be done succesfully. The working life is looking for the right person. I as a teacher must know my students well enough to be able to send the right students to the right places in working life. I must trust and not only trust but also believe that they will be able to take care and manage the given tasks.

Trusting and believing in someone means that as a teacher I give a chance for the students to do something concrete. Learning is a process. During the process there will be many different stages. In learning by doing e.g. I can follow the process and teach or coach the students from a closer distance. I learn to know them better that way. In the situations where learning is organized by creating concret authentic situations will it also be easier for the students to remember and understand. Finally when I know my students well enough I have the faith and courage to give them feedback. Doing something concret is important. It can and will be remembered and realized better than just hearing or reading it. Success will appear at some stages of the process. When I as teacher am closely involved in the projects I can learn to trust, believe and finally let go when the time is ripe.

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Trust – believe – let go is a slogan for me and my team of colleagues nowadays. Not easy at all but it has been a learning process for us teachers also during the time of changes in vocational education here in Finland. We are pioneers and we are proudly enjoying it. We trust and believe that we are doing something good and right for the future. Letting go is challenging but it gives us more than it takes.

Written and photos by Natascha Skog

 

Teach them life skills! 

Teach them life skills! 

According to Finnish workplace employers, student coordinators and other workers teachers in vocational education should focus on teaching life skills and skills the future employees need in work life, work life competences. Finnish vocational education aims to fulfill the need for skills in working life, hence it´s development education attentively together with education providers and working life representatives. Working life representatives express their opinions on the future trained workforce needs, while the education administration actively supports work on anticipating skill needs.

Critical thinking is skill that we all need to survive in this changing world. Todays and futures students need to be able to make clear, reasoned and well thought out judgements.

Teachers create learning opportunities for students. It is very important that the learning enviroment is surrounded positive and permissive atmosphere. To be able to practice critical thinking students need trust and belief in themselves. Teachers can make students understand the importance of having a positive attitude towards life and viewing all situations as learning opportunities. It must be emphasized that having developed reasoning skills and critical ability is what makes on successful in life.

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Students with good basic trust are more likely to think optimistic. 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 students to relax and see situations as learning opportunities.

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As well as teachers creates optimistic learning atmosphere, they have huge impact on developing a basic trust if it´s needed. Basic trust can be developed in trustfull and respectfull relationship. Teachers can reflect security, build trust and create permissive learning atmosphere where students can relax, learn to act and be in securely attached in ways that are needed in life. The more teachers create basic trust, optimism in students lives, the more process of transforming and realizing and becoming flows more smoothly. Building the basic trust can lead students to feel that they are good, valuable, worthwhile and lovable. Quite powerful!

As well as basic trust can be developed, optimistic thinking is learnable. Teachers can develope optimism in students bahaviour by their own example. Motivate and spread optimism!

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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 habit, a person must work to change their pessimistic explanatory style to a more optimistic one.

Critical thinking is a process of skillfully conceptualizing, analyzing, evaluating and applying information gathered from, or generated by, experience, communication or reasoning (criticalthinking.org). The student with a good basic trust and optimistic thinking has disposition towards critical thinking. Student who have a high critical thinking ability and are encouraged to learn, to make mistakes create new skills and knowledge. They are more prepared to the life and their professions. Today it is important that we teach more life skills, increase basic trust and optimistic thinking. The optimistic thinking will encourage students to see learning task and work lives challenges now and in the future in a positive light.

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Experiencing basic trust and optimistic thinking does not imply that students don´t struggle with their circumstances. But it means they don´t have to struggle internally with themselves. It means accepting and allowing, learning that life is manageable and workable. They can relax and just let it be, learn.

Written by Annele Heikkilä
Photos Lia Heikkilä