Sometimes the best advice is – let’s find out together

Students ask me lots of different kind of questions. For sure it’s important to put them into situations that they feel a bit the same when you go to cold water but how to teach if they don’t want to learn new thing or two?

It’s about finding your own niche and how do we all do it? We have to try on something that we never ever have tried or we try something again. Once we dive deeper we can find something that we are interested in. Quite simple, right? Sounds simple but helping to find out your personality, feelings, interests and other information can take time as we all know. But do we really have that time or are we willing to do that work? Or it might not even ever happen if there isn’t any connection between learner and teacher.

If you still are willing to get knowing your learners you might hear bam, bam, bam. It’s a sound of eagerness to learn. When that’s in the air there comes also the motivation or at least we can discover that we aren’t in the corner anymore. Many times failure help you to see possibilities. And that feeling is why I love my line of work.

Then the coaching starts. We learn to be better losers. When we are doing the same thing over and over a few things come to my mind. Love for the “game” for sure; to have that kind of determination, motivation and willingness to keep you going and make yourself better and more skillful.

Of course it would be cool to coach and teach the best of the bests and as we all know it’s very motivating to coach and teach people who are willing to learn. We as teachers need to acknowledge that teaching is more and more motivating learners to find their own ways.

For me the main focus of education isn’t anymore about teaching skills that they might be needing in the future. It’s helping learners to find their own way. So basically what I’m telling you is motivating them to switch off the autopilot and take the ownership of learning for themselves.

To develop master of your own craft you need to do the simple stuff right over and over again. How to create the mindset become your own G.O.A.T.?

The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.

Kobe Bryant

It helps to acknowledge that there is no sealing in learning. When you think you have the skill, you usually understand that you have many layers to dive deeper and you are never ready when you want to be better.

But let’s get back to the original issue. When your compass is going round and round as well you are lacking goals in learning and making yourself better it’s our job to help you on right track. We can succeed by doing and learning together.

Text Mikko Hankaniemi, vocational teacher

Future employers in Europe do have Hope

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.

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

Give credit where credit is due

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Sounds obvious but it does not always happen. Especially in highly hierarchical organizations, people often think they get credit based on their power, not their actual contributions. And that is the crossing where all can go just wrong.

I think we all are responsible to change this — not just with our friends and family but in all the occasion, we face people. What we can do?

Pay attention at people around you, who you meet, your colleagues, people in your organization and give feedback. Make sure that the right people are getting the right credit for the right reasons at the right time. Be an explorer who want to find out the best out of everyone.

Credit team members for crediting one another. Good idea is to incentivize your team members to acknowledge and appreciate others’ contributions. This “expansion” of credit enhances team cohesion and trust, promoting more and better collaboration. Positive emotions expand our awareness and open us up to new ideas.

Show them the way

Crediting system that increases brain wellbeing

Very simple method to develop greater happiness and better self-confidence on others is to credit others. Create experiences for them, which help these good mental states become good neural traits. This is taking in the good: activating a positive experience and installing it in brain. You must be honest and truthful, fake won’t matter.

In my team at work, we are excited about brain wellbeing and our ability to increase it by our actions. We like to symbolically reward people who are for to credit. We have created rewarding system that supports brain wellbeing. The brain is the organ that learns, so it’s designed to be changed by experiences. What we repeatedly sense and feel is slowly but surely sculpting brain wellbeing.  Positive feedback will leave an enduring imprint in our brains. Your mind is actually building your brain every day. So why not to have an influence on other peoples brain and brain wellbeing among creating the world the better place.

In my team, we have a certificate that says, “Well done”. You can receive the certificate whenever you have done something remarkable, or have finished something before deadline, or just survived trough a rough day, or just been adorable, kind and good to others. You can also give the certificate to yourself whenever you feel like it! Among the certificate, we also like to credit each other with spontaneous feedback for example by saying something as simple as “That was very great what you just said…”

Reflection in relationship has been described as a process that helps to turn experience into knowledge. We need more information where we are good at, what are our own strengths in someone else’s opinion. This way we can turn these experiences into knowledge and start to believe that we are good on something, we are capable on things that we are doing and we will have possibility to do more. To be able to be a reflective person who creates reflective atmosphere is not something we are born with, it is a learnable ability and it develops in discussions with other more advanced minds. It allows us to develop ourselves among it tempts us to continuous lifelong learning.

Together we can do it.jpg

Thank you for inspiring me!

Good trustworthy feedback, credit what you have done or achieved motivates you, pushes you to accomplish the tasks you are expected to do. It also pulls you towards something that stirs your heart and mind. It gives you the feeling that will support you to get the best out of yourself. A reflective person is not afraid of other one’s wisdom and knowledge vice versa they celebrate the brains that they have in their company, they love to give the credit for the ones it belongs to.

When we are filled with inspiration we don´t need external motivation to move forward, we will move forward. So why not to inspire each other’s, to get the best out of everyone. I get highly inspired by trustworthy feedback. It melts my heart and builds my self-confidence. I love to learn from others as well I’m happy to give feedback and credit to others.

The most important thing is that an atmosphere is created safe, where collective aspiration can be set free and we all are keen to learn from each other. This demands trust, believing and respect. Good, respectful relationship engages me to expand my thinking, to increase knowledge of what I might be lacking.

People with good basic trust are more likely to think optimistic and credits others. 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 us to relax and see situations as learning opportunities.

As well as we can create optimistic learning atmosphere, we have huge impact on developing a basic trust if it´s needed. Basic trust can be developed in trustful and respectful relationship. We can reflect security, build trust and create permissive learning atmosphere where other people can relax, learn to act and be in securely attached in ways that are needed in life.

The more we create basic trust, optimism in people’s lives, the more process of transforming and realizing and becoming flows more smoothly. Building the basic trust can lead people to feel that they are good, valuable, worthwhile and lovable. Quite powerful!

As well as basic trust can be developed, optimistic thinking and crediting others is learnable. 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 and crediting others, a person must work to change their pessimistic explanatory style to a more optimistic one and to be more willing to see other´s success.

Text Annele Heikkilä

Photos from Unplash: Wang Johnson, Oliver Easton, Helena Lopes

 

Think a cross-disciplinary way in Finnish vocational education

Harry Beck unlocked the most complicated problem in his time. He created London underground map to what we see today. Linear, color-coded diagram, map that is not actually a map anymore. Beck’s map was revolutionary in its simplicity. I love simple lines, good architecture and design and I have always been fascinated by London underground map. Beck has helped us to see multilayered, bustling and diverse London in simple, comprehensible form. By London underground map we get the feeling: I can manage this city!

Finnish vocational education has gone trough significant changes. People involved with vocational education are invited to a change. Even though the reform seems like the most complicated problem in this time, it´s possible.  We need people who want to see the result in different form that it has been.

I see reform as a possibility to create new map of education. Why not to follow Becks principles when creating new in vocational education.

  • Focus, who you are doing it for
  • Simplicity
  • Thinking a cross-disciplinary way

 

With these principles we can create a map that empowers the feeling I can manage this! Map of the Finnish vocational education and training looks like this at the moment. (minedu.fi)

OKM uusi ammatillinen koulutus englanti

The reform in Finnish vocational education will strengthen vocational competence in Finland. It will increase possibilities to study at workplaces and students´ individual competence needs can be met flexibly with the help of qualifications. Reform  promotes students’ access to employment and by offering high quality education for them it supports smooth transition to further studies.

Hop along to unlock the most complicated problem in this time and you´ll realize it is just a big wonderful challenge to create something new and revolutionary!

Text Annele Heikkilä

Photo provided by Pexels

New vocational education and training minedu.fi

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do what you love – love what you do

Who am I to do what I want to do?

Why is that? How wrong I was. I had seen my own mother working as a teacher my whole childhood and I thought that it is not what I wanted. It was because I had a stereotypical picture of a teachers job. I did not think of what I could do as a teacher nor what I wanted to do as a teacher. A lot has happened in the world ever since and a lot has changed in me also during that period of time. What I am happy about today is that I actually am a teacher, coach and a mentor today. But, did I back that time know what I wanted to do or be? No I didn’t know. The help I got from the school or from home didn’t really help me much because I simply didn’t know myself well enough.

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I wish I could forward my students today something that I have learned during the journey into myself. I don’t mean anything they can Google or learn from the books but something totally different. What is it then that I could or maybe should teach them? Self-knowledge maybe? Self-knowledge is something that should be taught. Yes I know, it sounds rediculous and maybe even stupid but it is true. Many of us people in the world of today don’t know who we are nor what we want to be or do. We follow our peers, parents, relatives, authorities or we fulfill some kind of obligations (specially youth at schools). Unfortunatelly I say so and I also mean it. It is lost energy, lost potential, lost resources and lost selfhood at worst. So who am I and what do I want are relevant questions.

How do I do that – teach self-knowledge? There are for sure as many ways of doing that as there are teachers. I start with asking my students who are you, what can you do or what are you good at? An awful difficult questions for being so simple ones you might think. Then I continue with what would you like to be better at? But still one of the most important things after knowing what I can do and what I can’t do is though what do I dream about. What would I wish to do the most in my life? Now we are talking about personal skills and abilities. What could I do with my own personal skills and abilities and then if or when I know what I want to do what would I have to learn to be able to fulfill my own dreams? I believe that the motivation for learning something I know that I want to learn and that I need to know is better than just learning something in storage. Even learning something that I am not fully interested in is easier with a motivation for that than without it.

Where would we be and what would we do if we were doing something we really want and love to do? It would be hundred times easier to forgive ourselves a mistake or a failure than it is otherwise. By the way, doing something even if it was a failure is better than doing nothing. By a failure you at least gain with experience but doing nothing weakens everything and not least your self-respect. The treshold grows bigger and bigger to start with anything after a while. Of course we need good experiences and we will get some by doing something. That is why I recommend you to learn to know yourself. To know what you can do and what you want to do, then it is easier to start doing something.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE
LOVE WHAT YOU DO

What do I gain from doing what I love and loving what I do? Better self-confidence which again allows me easier to accept that I can’t or won’t always succeed. I make mistakes but it is not the whole world to fail. I can also learn to be glad about failing. We all do mistakes. I am a valuable person anyway and I am not judged because of my mistakes and even if I was judged it doesn’t matter. I can and will take it and make it further. My good self-esteem allows me my own mistakes because I am doing what I love so I can love what I am doing no matter what happens. I can proudly stand for what I do.

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Would world be a more beautiful place to live at when we do what we love and love what we do? In my opinion yes. More positive attitude with an ownership of what you are doing than without it. Decide what it is you want to do and then start working for that and do it. Don’t think of all the reasons for not succeeding but all the possibilities what succeeding will bring you.

I can not always choose what I am doing but mainly I can. I do what I love, what I am good at and I can use my strengths. I am positive to what I am doing and I learn something new every day in my life. I do not succeed with everything that I am doing but I know that it is not even possible to succeed always. I am blessed and thankful that I can do what I love so I can love what I do.

I encourage you to DO WHAT YOU LOVE ❤️ you have more to give and more to get. Be positive – life is not always easy but when you know what you’re doing and you’re doing it, it is easier to LOVE WHAT YOU DO ❤️

Written by Natascha Skog

Photo by Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

 

 

 

Inspired By a Leader

I have earlier written about insecure leaders. Now I think I should write about other kind of leaders and about my own experiences of being led. I have to admit I´m quite fascinated about my organizations head leader´s ideas, how he thinks that reflective  interaction requires good self-esteem. He says that we should not hide or forget ourselves under the constant hurry. If we forget ourselves there is a concern that we will loose our contact to ourselves. We become more drifting personalities thinking that if we fill our days with e-mails, social media or other stimulations that make us look busy, people will respect us and we become more valuable. Drift is a choise one does without decision and it may unleash consequences for which one doesn’t take responsibility. Drift might sound small, but once unleashed, drift is a powerful, often almost unstoppable, force. Are we too afraid to ask ourselves, how we are?

Reflection in relationship and in leadership has been described as a process that helps to turn experience into knowledge. To be able to be a reflective person who creates reflective atmosphere is not something we are born with, it is a learnable ability and it develops in discussions with other more advanced minds.

I have found that there are atleast three different kinds of leaderships: motivational, inspiring and reflecting one.

Motivational leader motivates you, pushes you to accomplish the tasks you are expected to do. But you might need motivation to be pushed, maybe you would rather be doing anything else. We can be motivated by result not the journey.

Inspiring leader instead pulls you towards something that stirs your heart and mind. Inspiring leaders know that the most effective way to enroll followers is to clearly articulate what the leaders believe in, why they exist, and where they are going.

A reflective leader supports employees to get the best out of themselves. They allows employees to ‘hear’ their own thoughts and to focus on what they say and feel, they encourag employees to a conversation that leads to brainstorming, changing ideas and growing. Reflective leaders shows the employees that they are trying to perceive the world as employees see it and that they are doing their best to understand their messages. A reflective leader is 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.

We can be inspired by a person, an atmosphere, or surroundings. I think we have different ways to get inspired. When we are filled with inspiration we don´t need external motivation to move forward, we will move forward. People who are lacking clear vision often need external motivation to keep themselves moving forward. Motivation or inspiration is not enough. We also need reflection to be able to grow, learn more from ourselves and our underlying emotions and interpersonal behaviors.

I get inspired by good conversations, (Of course surroundings too, I´m aesthetician.) talks where I can feel comfortable, be visible as who I am. An atmosphere is created where collective aspiration can be set free and somebody is keen to learn from me as I´m from them. This demands trust, believing and respect. Good, respectful relationship engages me to expand my thinking, to increase knowledge of what I might be lacking.

Last week I had a good conversation with my leader. If I exaggerate a bit the main content of our conversation was that he was interested how I felt myself in my team and that I´m free to do what ever I want to. I underline exaggerating, but the message to me was clear: I´m trusted and respected. As a professional I know my limits and they were discussed, but the feeling of freedom inspires me to do my best.

The conversation had reflective point of view. It included self-observation and self-evaluation and as we know this will lead to better self-awareness and confidence. When you are invited to collect information about yourself and your way of working, and by analyzing and evaluating this information, it helps you to identify and explore your own practices and underlying beliefs. This will lead to changes and improvements in working. Reflective leading therefore means professional development which begins in a dialogue with the employee.

Tiny little things to do to get the best out of the employee, but so meaningful and so hard if you are lacking reflective ability. I´m very easygoing person, I´m easy to please and easy to lead, but it must be done in a transparent, honest way. I must be able to trust that purpose is genuine. It is known that 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).

I must say I have different experiences being lead. Of course I have, I started my career in 90s. One of my bosses on my way has become my dearest friend and an otherone is helping me on my career what ever I have decided to do, he supports me no matter how crazy ideas I get! That I call trusting!

I have also met leaders who have not taken responsibility of their behaviors and actions. When you are lead by a very insecure leader you also become insecure, the reflection tells you, that you are not good enough, not accepted nor trusted. Your purpose is doubted no matter how hard you try. The creativity is killed and you will start to drift, there is no energy to think other options.

Reflective ability reveals unsafe patterns and disrespectful ways of leadership. It helps individuals to understand that emotions influence interactions. Ability of thinking reflectively helps to clarify the cause and effects relations between underlying emotions and interpersonal behaviors. May be, if you are too torn, you have no courage to do anything for the situation. You either defer or give up and resign.

The more reflective and respectful a leader can be, the more reflective and respectful their employes will be. The more reflective  leaders can be the more they can learn from the employees, because they knows they can trust the employees´ reflections. Reflective leaders motivate and inspire employees´ in powerful way because it involves personal growth.

Written by Annele Heikkilä

Photos Lia Heikkilä

Spontaneus after work discussion

As we have mentioned earlyer we found after work discussions very evolving. On friday we met for a late lunc or should I call it a dunch after work. We had an inspirational conversation about our future plans and dreams among personal life updates.

We also discussed about what have we gained participating to different Erasmus+ projects. We have noticed that participating to international projects 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 also have learned a lot from ourselves. Video was shot on a whim, totally spontaneus.

 

Video Laura Nikkanen, editing Annele Heikkilä

Underneath our clothes we are all equal!

There are no job titles when it comes to the ladies dressing room. I assume it is the same in the males dressing rooms, but having never visited, I can´t tell. I love the  truthfulness of the Finnish culture. Finland is one of the world’s leading countries in fostering gender equality and we are proud of it. My male foreign friends usually make jokes about Finnish woman and how independent they are. I think the jokes are very funny and so true! We do love to carry our own luggage to show how independent we are, and that is worth joking about!

Finland was the first country to grant women full political rights. Gender equality has generated renewal and prosperity in our society, as the contribution of both women and men has been accessible. Finland propels a worldwide commitment to gender equality, but maybe not all women in the world need to carry their luggage to show their equality. Good advice towards other cultures is that pick good habits, leave poor.

Not only the gender equality, but equality itself is very important to us Finns. We are not that thrilled of hierarchy. We like to solve the problems with a non-hierarchical way in workplaces and in general. You can say that we lack of hierarchy, but there actually are hierarchical structures in Finnish workplaces and they vary from field to field. Hierarchy is often suppressed. Hierarchy is indicated with small, often tacit gestures. The power position is based on the demands and the responsibility of a job description and also on how much the work community respects and appreciates the person’s input and expertise. A person’s position is not dependent on age or gender. In Finland we find it very important to show respect to all workers, no matter what their position is.

Back to the ladies dressing room. I meet different women on different mornings in our joint dressing room. Some of us cycle to work, some run, some walk, but we come with a hurry so we all need a shower. Nudity in Finnish culture is as truthful as our equality. Underneath our clothes we are all equal. In a dressing room we are all equal in dignity and we act towards one another in a spirit of sisterhood.

While showering and dressing up we like to talk about todays politics, religions, even money and every one of us has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We are very interested about other opinions and ways of seeing things. We feel the atmosphere and the environment is safe. The thing that makes us very Finnish is that even though we are enjoying our equal conversations and interaction we are very time orientated. We Finns follow a strict concept of time – especially at work. We respect the thought that our daily working hours are based on a contract. If the meeting in the morning is announced to begin at 9 a.m. we will be there a couple minutes before. Being late may happen, but it is not socially acceptable. Being on time shows respect towards the others. This means that these morning talks are not that long, as well as there is no long showers in Finnish workplaces. We dress up, but some lipstick and wish each other pleasant work day and off we go.

How this differences in other cultures? Even we talk very deeply about difficult subjects, we reveal our deepest thoughts about the subjects, but we don’t know each other by name! We are just a lady who cycles with cool cycling glasses on or that lady who runs 10k back and forth from work.

In Finland we shake hands when we meet a person for the first time, but not when you enter the dressing room. We also introduce ourselves when we greet, but we probably don´t remember actively their names we meet. Names are not that important in our culture. Greetings in general in Finland differences from other countries. It is polite to greet when you pass somebody at work place, but – unlike in many other countries – it is not necessary to address everybody when you arrive and leave work. Shaking hands is the most common and preferred way of greeting in formal situations. You can hug, but it shows you really know the one you hug very well. Hugs and kisses belongs to a relationship. Kisses on a cheek is an international way of greeting people, but we never remember which cheek to start with, so we might end up kissing you straight on your lips!

We Finns have a desire to be likable so we are open to all international ways of greet and meet. We do love to copy the good habits from other cultures, so you probably will end up seeing very many different ways to greet.

You might have heard that Finland is the happiest country in the world, according to a United Nations (UN) report. Among the happiest there is another study that says Finland is the best place to work in Europe. I agree, and add that it is definitely the most easy country to shower with your not know colleagues!

Text and photos Annele Heikkilä

 

 

 

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