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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dress code Confidence -What to wear in the Office

Dress code Confidence -What to wear in the Office

How you are perceived by others depends on your first impression. Dressing up helps you build your confidence. Dressing well is often a creative expression of the individual and it can also be one way to boost your confidence. In Icebath we think people dress up to respect other people.

First of all it is important that you will figure out the dress code in the office. I have noticed that in my new job the dress code is confidence with a hint of relaxed humor and academic backgroud gives the well finnished look. Even when you work in the office where the dress code in strictly business attire it is important that you reflect your individual style. How you dress effects how you perform. People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better. This is important rule when you work at home. If you work with your joggers that has holes in them and your hair finds it own style among your face looks tired with some drool on your cheek, what will you expect form your performance?

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Okey, we have figured out that the company’s dress code is confidence, but how will you reach that? Respecting others is the key to find your confidence. The more you get the other people shine and to do their best the more confident you will be. You don´t need to dress in your most conservative suit, with accessories to match. You can be curios of other people and their skills and competences. You can have an open mind that gives you space to develop yourself and lets you to grow when reflected by other people. People see if you are true with yourself and wheather you are trustworthy or not. You should have a good reflective ability and be keen on evolving in that. Good reflective ability gives you a free pass to better confidence. Collecting information about yourself will help you identify and explore your own practices and underlying beliefs. This will lead to changes and improvements in your own personal growth. People who are confident and selfaware are the people you find it easy to be with. There are no hiding expectations.

What ever the dress code is, if you are able to create an atmosphere where collective aspiration can be set free and people are keen to learn from each other you have nailed it. In every office and workplace the dress code should be based on good mentalizing and reflective ability. There should be good conversations that reveals people capacity to understand themselves and others in terms of intentional mental states, such as feelings, desires, wishes, goals and attitudes. Mentalizing is a quintessential human capacity that is needed to be able to successfully navigate the social world. There should be thoughtful reflective questions that are designed to help teams at the workplaces to reflect on their practice. Using carefully chosen questions will allow people to probe for deeper complexity and encourage them to self reflection. Thoughtful questioning help people to move forward with focus and intent. Trough these kind of conversations people will gain confidence and become more skilled at working through tough problems without hurting each other or themselves. Being able to work in this kind of athmosphere the work community will develop the skills and tools to handle similar issues in the future independently. It allow us to grow towards more aware and a better persons.

No matter how casual the office is, it’s never appropriate to wear primitive defenses in interaction with other people. You always must be responsible of your own reactions among curious why you act the way you do, especially when under a lot of stress or questioned about your choices. Self-observation and self-evaluation are crucial and will lead to better self-awareness and confidence.

Make sure that people always have confident feeling when around you. Minimize sarcastic humor, it can always be miss understood. Keep rude, racist and offensive comments away. Treat people the way you wish they´ll treat you. Be always on time, because being late is a way of using power and disrespecting other people. Bring your smile with you to work, greet your colleagues and be also interested about their personal lives. Be the best version of you.

Save your cologne or perfume for the other occasions, and let your co-workers realize how freshly you want see and think. Let them enjoy how groomed you are and how eager you are to learn and develop yourself with them among the organization. Make excellent impression of you and stick to the dress code.

To boost your confidence spend a few minutes spiffing yourself in the mirrow before you leave home. Reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind. When you respect yourself, your respect others. Don’t forget the red lipstick it always makes the day, no matter how strict the dress code is!

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Written by Annele Heikkilä

Photos edited by Mikko Hankaniemi, Photo White Shirt Michael Frattaoli on Unsplash, LipstickSamuel Zeller on Unsplash

Street style in vocational teaching in spring 2018

Street style in vocational teaching in spring 2018

Another season of fashion week is upon us—Spring 2018, to be exact. To be in, hip, you need to wear flashes of color – bright tangerine, shocking pink and tomato red.

To be a vocational teacher is also in fashion in Finland today. We survived the reform and now we just have to aspirate to 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 in 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. Very cleaver idea is to  complete the look with crazy ambitiousness.

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The new collection of 2018 consists of teachers who are gentle, kind and constructive. They must have passion to find success in learning, improving and opening up themselves to growth. The motivating concept behind the new collection, combines the continued professional development – and to maintain a healthy balanced work life for the teachers. In vocational education street style collection should be found learning new approaches to teaching, student assessment and new ways of using technology. Teachers should have utterly confident ways of combining students individual needs and need for skills in working life. Mix and match is very in.

There are various challenges teachers face in prioritizing continued professional development. The most important task on the way is personal growth. That is why we need teachers with reflective ability and good self-awareness that they can get the best out of their students. They must be aware of their own development tasks and they must be responsible for designing their own career development education, focused on the skills and knowledge they are lacking of. They must be able to pimp their own growth. Self-observation and self-evaluation are crucial in today’s fashion and that will lead to better self-awareness and confidence.

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Street style pros will get you out of your comfort zone,  they are dressed in their best, no matter the temperatures. Collecting information about yourself and your way of teaching, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, is very popular among street style pros. This will help you identify and explore your own practices and underlying beliefs. This will lead to changes and improvements in teaching. Healthy self confidence, which includes reflective ability is an iconic outfit in vocational teaching in 2018.

Teachers require, to ensure that the skills they coach to their students are in line with the needs of the workplaces. Skills need to be updated and this requires teachers’ work placement periods or that they will take the teaching and coaching to the workplaces. This will lead instant professional growth, the development of professional competence and expertise. Quality of teaching will change and improve immediately.

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Street style in vocational teaching in 2018 is all about taking the brave steps out of our comfort zone. There will be resistance, but when teachers will do that, it will

– increase teachers’ motivation and enthusiasm for one’s own work
– increase teachers’ will and courage to maintain contacts with the working life
– curricula and teaching are developed in a more working-life oriented direction
– increase workplaces’ knowledge of vocational education
– intensify co-operation between education providers and working life

(Guide for the Implementation of Vocational Teachers’ Work Placement Periods, Oph 2014).

So, what do you think, what should be found from every vocational teachers everyday wardrobe in spring 2018?

Photos Lia Heikkila

Written by Annele Heikkila

How to become more reflective teacher?

How to become more reflective teacher?

Reflective teaching means looking at what you do with your students, how you teach, why you do what you do, and thinking about if it works. It is a process of self-observation and self-evaluation and it will lead to better self-awareness and confidence. By collecting information about yourself and your way of teaching, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, it  helps you  identify and explore your own practices and underlying beliefs. This will lead to changes and improvements in teaching. Reflective teaching therefore means professional development which begins in a dialog with students and colleagues.

How to start, how to get a better picture of how you teach and interact with your students?

Invite a colleague to participate to your lesson. Or as we do, do team teaching! We have arranged different learning opportunities for students from different areas in vocational studies, for example we have mixed successfully business, media and healthcare studies.

Team teaching has been very good learning and developing opportunity for us. It has been refreshing to work with colleagues from different areas. Even though the teachable subject might have been out of our comfort zone, we have been able to focus on interaction and atmosphere, and of course we have learned from the subject!

Team teaching and envolving with your reflective ability demands trust, believing and respect between colleagues. It`s very important to create an atmosphere where collective aspiration can be set free and people are keen to learn from each other. Good, respectful relationship can engage teachers  to expand their thinking, to increase knowledge of  what they might be lacking of and to find out the best out of everyone. Envolving with reflective ability is based on loving truthful reflection and rational discourse.

Reflection that will be given needs to be gentle, kind and constructive. When you have good reflective ability you will find success in learning and improving. The truth is, when you open up yourself to a growth it makes yourself more you. The challanges you meet won´t swallow you completely, instead you have the tools to deal with them.

One of our projects that we did, supported by team teaching, was Improving Young People’s Mental Health. Sorry the video is in Finnish, but focus on the feelings!

 

Video Students from Kpedu

Written by Annele Heikkilä

Teachers need reflective leaders

Teachers need reflective leaders

Carey Nieuwhof has written interesting articles in his blog about insecure leaders. A week ago I had a great conversation about this subject. We were talking about how insecure leaders don’t realize how deeply their personal insecurities play role into their managerial styles, and how habitual these behaviors can become if left unchecked. In Finland we have a saying: ”I must have all the yarns in my hands”. For a good leader that is impossible.  Leaders with low self-awareness frequently take the impact of personal challenges, and project those issues onto employees, which is the ultimate outcome of not taking ownership of their insecurities. A leader who is being insecure in their personal life might find it very rewarding to be able to control everything, having all the yarns in their hands.

Learning organization ideology, that we highly admire in Icebath, doesn’t approve leaders who control everything.  In educational world it is very important to have leaders who have people-centered approaches to leading. People-centered approaches mean relinquishing control to others and trusting that employees will not abuse that responsibility. To be able to do this a leader must have very good self-awareness and they must be very confident and comfortable in their role to pull it off. To get the best out of students requires it teachers who have people-centered approach to teaching, coaching, leading their team, a group of students.

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Nieuwof writes that one of the most glorious answers a leader can give is “I don’t know.” Admitting that you don’t know and you want to hear your employees point of view, is a wise thing to do and even an insecure leader knows that. They do respect other opinions, they do want to hear them out and maybe to use them later as their own opinions. The biggest fear of an insecure leader is a fear of losing control. Losing control and switching to a people-centered approach is the most difficult thing to do.

During the reform in Finnish educational system, in this changing world in teaching teachers might have doubts how they will retain their authority, their expertness if they change their role from all knowing teachers to a questioner coaches. How the teachers are lead equals how they will teach, coach, lead their teams.

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To be able to lose control, insecure leaders and teachers must concentrate their own personal growth. To be able to grow you must start to think you can grow in every conversation, you can learn from everybody you meet and out of everything you experience. Realizing that you are not the center of the universe, all knowing miracle you can find out that wisdom can be found around you and there are people who know more than you and work better than you. They just need a good leader who supports them to get the best out of themselves.

There are so many leaders who try to control everything schedules, time in the office, output, budget etc.  At the same time they are trying to control everything they can, they say they want employees to be creative and innovative and make the best out of themselves and the company. The problem is that people who are controlled won’t be creative, innovative, and responsive. People won’t stay in their jobs, if they don´t feel respected and trusted. If they are forced they stay, but act like marionettes. We  don’t want our future employees to be marionettes. We want them to be inspired, with good self-awareness and confidence  in their role, what ever it will be,  to pull it off.

Instead of packing your insecurities into a briefcase every day and bringing them with you to work and projecting them onto employees or students,  leaders  and teachers should come to work without a briefcase at all! Tough challenge!

To be a good leader or teachers you don´t have to know everything, because that is impossible, but to be a good leader or teacher  you must be able to grow, learn and develop yourself every day in a reflection with your employees, co-workers, students and people around you.

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Reflection in a relationship and in a leadership has been described as a process that helps turn experience into knowledge. To be able to be a reflective person who creates reflective conversation is not something we are born with, it is a learnable ability and it develops on discussions with other more advanced minds. 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). Reflective ability helps individuals to understand that emotions influence interactions. Ability of thinking reflectively helps to clarify the cause and effect relations between underlying emotions and interpersonal behavior.

What then is the purposes of good reflecting leadership ability?

A reflective leader allows employees to ‘hear’ their own thoughts and to focus on what they say and feel, they encourage employees to a conversation that leads to brainstorming and changing ideas, growing.

Reflective leader shows the employees that they are trying to perceive the world as employees sees it and that they are doing their best to understand their messages. They are 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.

Reflecting does not involve asking questions, introducing a new topic or leading the conversation in another direction.  Leaders help employees through reflecting as it not only allows them to feel understood, but it also gives them the opportunity to focus on their ideas.  This in turn helps them to direct their thoughts and further encourages them to continue speaking and that way learning.

The more reflective a leader can be, more reflective will their employees, teachers be and their reflective ability reflects to the people around them. The more reflective a leader can be the more they can learn from their employees, because they know they can trust their employees reflections! Reflective leaders spread life skills around.

Be brave to let go of the yarns in your hands, someone else knows better how to create a woolen sock out of them!

Written by Annele Heikkilä