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

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