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

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

Teach them to know WHO YOU ARE

Teach them to know WHO YOU ARE

I deliberitely start with coaching though I´ve been a teacher now for 18,5 years. I am a economics, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial methods teacher/lecturer at secondary level Vocational Business School in Finland, Kokkola. As a background information to let you know that I´ve been coaching and instructing aerobics and other gymnastic groups since 1992. I have various kind of experience about coaching versus teaching. All my life I´ve been a coaching teacher and luckily it`s highly recommended today.

What a cliche? Coaching versus teaching. Very much discussed topic in the Finnish educational system lately. Something that Finland is worldwide known for, is the high level education and the whole educational system in general is very much admired. I won´t get into that now but maybe later. But change is constant. In my opinion we people in general need to have the ability to adapt in changing situations. Teachers are under such a hard pressure at the moment because of the huge changes. The whole world, surrounding society, working life, tasks and skills are changing. Life skills and work life competences are highly demanded skills. How to teach them? On the other hand how to learn them if you don´t know who you are, what you can and what you should be better at?

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The starting point for any human being to be educated should be to know yourself, who am I?  Who I am, what do I know, what are my strengths and in what skills would I like to develop? What are my own goals in whatever I do. The ownership of my own life skills, learning skills and doings are mine. No one elses but mine!

Coaching will turn into teaching with the methods used. It is a mixture of coaching and teaching. In my opinion the mixture is very challenging but interesting and giving. Coaching is challenging in a different way compared to teaching. It is much more personal way of having a contact with the students. Not through an assignment or a mark but straight to the person in an authentic situation. You yourself as coach need to know your own skills and abilities to be able to coach students in changing situations and environments. Many unexpeted things and questions can appear. Are you redy?

They will forget what you said
They will forget what you did
They will remember how you made them feel
YOU can succeed if YOU know who YOU are and what YOU want

Written by Natascha Skog

Inhale coaching, exhale teaching

Inhale coaching, exhale teaching

Exhaling teaching, thinking outside the box does not mean we have to abandon all the pros of teaching. Successful coaches are tremendous motivators, they are determined and want athletes do to their best. Coaches generate enthusiasm for their sport and this enthusiasm is contagious because motivated people influence those with whom they are contacted with. Coaches have their hearts in their work. Positive atmosphere will generate more learning.

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Coaching is also influenced by success. Success, learning new things, can be linked to increasing self-satisfaction. Athletes, students  know they did their best to become what they are capable of becoming. If they fail, there needs to be a reflective discussion.

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Let me tell you, I know what I’m talking when I’m talking about coaching. Coaching has been part of my life almost 2 decades. I`m married to a coach. I think that is a achievement to mention and competence very much gained by the experience!

The European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training, ECVET, is a framework for the transfer, recognition and (where appropriate) accumulation of individuals’ learning outcomes with a view to achieving a qualification. ECVET was developed to enable people to build on what they have learnt in the past when wishing to achieve a qualification. It offers people the opportunities to get recognition for learning outcomes they achieved through life long learning and supports the transparency and recognition of knowledge, skills, and competences. (ecvet-toolkit.eu)

Being a coach’s wife is maybe not enough to acknowledge to recognize my coaching skills, but if you dig a little deeper you realize that maybe I have been coached as a wife for 20 years now. You get what you give. You use the methods that you have noticed to be effective. He has coached me to get the best out of myself. What you put into things is what you get out of them. Coaching helps you of what you’d like to receive.

I must say that I’m relieved that he is not coaching athletes at the moment (can´t say anymore, because I know his coaching heart). Oh boy! how dedicated a coach can be. It can be a bit too much for the wife, family and people who are closest with. Coaching though is still a huge part of his life and it always will be, because he is so excellent and talented with that. He is the one who has actually gained real competencies and skills by the experience. He successfully coaches his employees nowadays.

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Teaching could it be coaching has been very important question for us for several years now. Teachers don’t have to sell their souls to be effective, they don´t have to give their hearts to be motivating and enthusiastic. You can be dedicated in many ways and still have balance between your work and free time (and loved ones!). Coaching in teaching is a one-to-one learning and development intervention that is based on a collaborative, reflective, goal-focused relationship to achieve professional outcomes that are valued by the  student (Smither, 2011). The coaching relationship  is  that the student has a specific need or  purpose to fulfill their development objectives. The teacher is their coach and is willing to ask right questions and lead them to the right knowledge.

To be honest, teaching, can not be replaced by coaching. Coaching can be used as a very effective method in teaching. Teaching is far more wider concept than coaching.

Inhale knowledge, exhale wisdom.

Written by Annele Heikkilä