“It was my first time ever, when I gave a thought to my strengths! Until now I have always analysed what should I do more or differently? How should I change to be a better vocational teacher?” Participant of Erasmus Learning activity
Haaga-Helia School of Vocational Teacher Education is the partner of Erasmus -project INAPPME WBL (Innovative and Applicative Methods in Work Based Learning). Other countries involved in the project are Romania, Turkey and Italy. The general objective of the project is to promote European VET School teachers the application of effective innovative teaching methods and tools in work-based learning contexts. Haaga-Helia was responsible for learning activity as a part of the project. The learning activity was delivered as one-week workshop along with distance learning activities. Learning activity was based on two modules: Module 1: Work communities and networks and Module 2: Pedagogical approaches and the best practices in WBL. (Figure 1.).
While our learning activity week in the Italian countryside, we elaborated the common understanding and competences in work-based pedagogy by starting from individual level, heading to pedagogical principals, learning design in WBL and collaborative implementation. The pedagogical solutions and paths in guidance were considered by sharing the best practices in vocational education. The learning activity week contained dimensions to networking and high-quality collaboration. Through pedagogical drama the participants illustrated their ideas of building trust and team teaching. In the end of the week, we evoked ideas and challenges how education and the world around us will change in coming years and decades. What are the future megatrends and what kind of vocational education and competence will be needed?
Wizard, bystander or warrior?
Teachers often keep repeating the solutions they have once learned. At learning activity week every participant was challenged with collaborative and participatory methods. As facilitators we identified pretty fast, that something new is bubbling. The crave to learn was obvious. Participants were encouraged to continuous self-reflection and dialogue with each other. The group dynamics and ability to develop together were increasing significantly during the week. Participants reported how they’ve got empowered in many ways. How inspiring is that!
While our collaboration in INAPPME projects it’s become essential to invest in teacher’s empowerment. Our takeaways discussion at the end of our learning activity week clarified that two dimensions in empowerment were above the other ones. First, participants felt that by given possibility to analyse their own competence identity, they became aware of something unacknowledged. Shared experiences and views from others gave them fresh perspectives and motivated to go towards more learner-centred pedagogy. One of the core questions was connected with student motivation. Participants challenged each other´s within the collaborative sessions they facilitated “as a crown” of our week as one participant put it. Teacher’s self-reflection was promoted for example by introducing different metaphors for teacher´s roles. Are you a wizard, a bystander or a warrior, was asked in one of the sessions. In a nutshell, empowering practices and engaging social and professional dialogues were the superpowers our participants got as takeaways.
Let’s make a sustainable future together
The other remarkable dimension in teachers´ empowerment was global response and education for sustainable development. Different aspects of challenges for sustainability were identified. In the future sustainability crisis will become more and more acute and for example the circular economy and transition to carbon-neutral society will become increasingly significant. Our participants imagined the best possible and sustainable future image and identified the need for transformative change and pedagogies to achieve the global sustainable development goals. They chose different contents of ecologic, economic and social sustainability to include in their teaching. But most of all the empowerment was all about their commitment to change: “We need each other because together we are stronger. Let´s make sustainable future together. We can do it!”
At the moment we celebrate international Erasmus days 2019. We have more that 1 million people involved in Erasmus activities worldwide. These greetings are arguing on their behalf the importance of networking, collaboration and development of education, which Erasmus makes possible.
Senior lecturer Ruut Kaukinen and Principal lecturer Jani Siirilä, The School of Vocational Teacher education, Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences.