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

Vocational education is the new black

Vocational education is the new black

Finland is known worldwide for its high level education and actually the whole educational system in general is very much admired.

How do we make vocational education more attractive for people who are looking for an education. Maybe the money that students who choose vocational education begin to earn before their peers do, will tempt people to vocational studies. Along with the money, vocational education gives students skills and competences to earn the future they hope for.

If you know what you want in your future, if you know where you want to work at and you know that you want to become a skilled expert on that, vocational education is right for you. You will get the skilled knowledge that you need and you will start earning money already during your studies. In Finland you can continue your studies to college or university right after your graduation if you feel like going forward with your studies. The thing is, you can work and get payed as a professional during your postgraduate studies.

Today vocational education can be planned individually for every student and a huge part of the studies is done at the work place. Education providers in Finland work closely together with work places. 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. We might say that vocational education supports economic and social development in Finnish society.

You can also say that in Finland we have open doors for vocational studies. Education may be one of the responses to avoidance of discrimination, which is a big problem in Finland. If we are able to invite people to vocational studies, we are able to influence Finnish society. Vocational education can provide reliable environment for people to learn, grow and attach to society.

Finnish vocational education can not relinquish the high quality it has received. It must focus on personal and professional growth and be provided equitably. Economic growth must be in the focus when planning the education and be linked with the labour market. Vocational education must meet the todays needs and aspirate for the future.

Vocational education is the new black. Suits you perfectly, makes you look good, makes you feel secured and everybody desires your company.

Why not to consider it as an option!

Photo Mikko Hankaniemi

Written by Annele Heikkilä

 

 

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

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

Mentors, trailblazers in the reform of finnish vocational education

Mentors, trailblazers in the reform of finnish vocational education

Reform in Finnish vocational education is inviting teachers in Finland to a change. As we have mentioned earlier in Icebath people with growth mindset find success in learning and improving. The more they can do that the more rewarding the change will be for them and people around them. People with growth mindsets will lead Finnish vocational education trough the reform that it´s about to go trough. People with growth mindset can be the mentors for people who are afraid or other ways refuses the change.

Mentoring relationship can provide important experiential and collaborative learning opportunities that support the development of a learning organization. Helping others to do better, to find out the best of each other is a key for a change in Finnish vocational education. This can be done trough mentoring. We need people who believe in change, who believe in reform. We need people who want to learn out of the process and become better, stronger and cleaver after it. We need mentors who are willing to be first movers.

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Mentoring should be a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship that can lead people to career success, personal growth, leadership development, and increased productivity (Darwin, 2000). With successful mentoring people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire. During the reform we need mentors who invite teachers to expand their patterns of thinking. Good mentors can create atmosphere where  collective aspiration  has been set free and people are keen to learn from each other.

Mentoring functions in a learning organization include role modeling, exposure and visibility, protection, acceptance and affirmation, teaching, counseling, and friendship (Allen & Eby, 2007). Such mentoring provides numerous benefits to mentors, mentees, to the organizations and entire vocational education in Finland.

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Good, respectful relationship between mentor and mentee can engage teachers during the reform  in to expand their thinking, to increase knowledge what they might be lacking of and to find out the  best out of everyone. Mentoring partnerships are based on  reflection and rational discourse. Reflection that will be given needs to be gentle, kind and constructive. To be able to build an atmosphere of learning there must be absolute trust in workers. The teachers needs to have ownership on their knowledge and skills, they must have will power and believe in them selves and optimistic thinking wont do any harm!

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Trough good mentoring can good learning organization be created.
Good mentoring creates  teachers  who: are willing to apply new knowledge in daily tasks; individually and collaboratively analyzes problems and proposes solutions; evaluates new technologies or strategies and determinate their utility; create new  plans to improve the organization performance. (Carolyn M. Klinge, 2015.) That kind of teachers we need in the future, and hopefully we will have some already in January 2018!

Written by Annele Heikkilä

Growth mindset in a change of vocational education in Finland

Growth mindset in a change of vocational education in Finland

To have a growth mindset people need the belief in change. Vocational education in Finland is under big changes at the moment. People involved with vocational education are forced and invited to a change. People with growth mindset find success in learning and improving. The more they can do that the more rewarding the change will be for them and people around them

People with growth mindsets will lead Finnish vocational education trough
the reform that it´s about to go trough.

But not all people have growth mindset and they are against the change. Opposite of growth mindset is called fixed mindset. People with fixed mindset think the world needs change, not them. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is based on judging. ”I think I´m a loser, I think I´m better than anybody else, I know my subject that I´m teaching, I´m the best in what I do…” People with fixed mindset deal with the information they are receiving. They put very strong evaluation on each and every piece of information. A good feedback leads to very strong positive label and bad feedback leads to very negative label.

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People with growth mindset monitor also constantly what´s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging. Instead they try to find answers to questions What can I learn from this, How can I improve, How can I help my colleague do to better?
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Helping others to do better, to find out the best of each other is one key for a change in Finnish vocational education. We need people who believe in change, who believe in reform. We need people who want to learn out of the process and become better, stronger and cleaver after it.

To change a fixed mindset is gental work. Fixed mindset wants to leave gracefully. It will remind the people with very strong opinions ”You are nothing, you are fool…” By believing each other, by good feedback, by finding the best out of everyone and under trust and respect the fixed mindset has no power to stay. Fixed mindset might think they are not themselves if they change. They might think they`ll lose their professional skills if they change. They might think fixed mindset have them the ambition, the edge, their individualist. They might be afraid they´ll become a bland cog in the wheel just like everybody else. Ordinary. Or they might be afraid their knowledge will be revealed.

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The truth is, when a person with fixed mindset opens themselves up to a growth
makes  that them more themselves and they can be people in the full flower of
their individualist and potency. Knowledge of the teachers will be revealed, but it means there are no longer teachers who are specialists of subjects, there are people who want to find the right answers with their co-workers, co-workers that are called students so far.

Reform in Finnish vocational education offers us solid ground that can lead to big changes in the educational level and peoples perspective. It can change us as association and a nation.

Written by Annele Heikkilä
Based on Carol S. Dwecks book Mindset, changing the way you think to fullfil
your potential, 2017.