Hey guys! It's Nicole & Payton- we are junior Sociology majors along for the ride on this awesome adventure!
Our first stop of the day was a visit to Siltamaki Elementary School. It is located in Northern Helsinki and has approximately 260 students, 17 teachers, and 8 school assistants. While Siltamaki was not situated in as affluent a neighborhood as the school we visited on Friday, the money to support a child’s welfare while at school is financially accessible via the state regardless of a student’s personal background. They strive to integrate basic education with special education classrooms, allowing students to have extra space when needed but also allowing them the equal opportunity of a mainstream classroom experience. Their main philosophy is a focus on joyful learning and empowering education, which lead their principal to develop The Creative Fire Model. This is a pedagogical style based on creative learning, collaboration, cooperation, design, and digitalization. The model is people, project, phenomenon, and technologically based with an emphasis on future-oriented school culture. When the school shifted to this model, the held a number of parent meetings to explain the new approach, along with various internet-based resources such as YouTube Videos (check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NElH knsmeL8). The Vice Principal focused much of her attention on exploratory developmental projects that focused on integrating technology in the classroom in a reasonable way such as Co-European iTech Project and Ten Sticks on a Tablet. This was a way to help children of all ages engage more meaningfully with their peers as well as older members of the school and local communities. Another project that the Vice Principal helped shape at Siltamaki was the Magic Forest Games, which demonstrated the importance of music integration in academic settings.
While visiting the elementary school we were instructed not to take very many photos of the children. However, we caught a brief clip of one of their songs they have been practicing that we wanted to share with you all! We also found it interesting that it is customary that students remove their shoes before entering the classroom.
Our next stop was at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. The university has approximately 10,500 students with 650 staff members across 5 campuses. The four basic program units at the University are the Business Program, the Hospitality/Tourism/Sports Program, the ICT/Management/Communication , and the School of Vocational Teacher Education. We focused our attention on the School of Vocational Teacher Education. Vocational Teacher Education is organized by law and they have the same requirements nationwide. Teachers have to go through five to six years of schooling for an academic degree (ranging from an M.A. to a Ph.D.) and three years minimum of work experience, and then one to three years of pedagogical studies. After this point, they can elect to continue their education, but this is the minimum timeline. The steps of vocational teacher education are: 1. Competence Assessment, 2. Personalization, 3. Peer Group Mentoring, 4. Pedagogy/Observation, 5. Assessment. With great educational opportunities and a more far-reaching welfare system, more people have the opportunity to seek educational advancement during periods of unemployment, making vocational programs such as this one appealing to many young adults.
In the words of our guide, "Hey!" We than visited a company called Martela Inspiring Spaces and their primary goal was to inspire creativity into the workplace. They designed their work-spaces to enhance concentration, communication, and collaboration. The furniture they built is light-weight and easy to move. They incorporate acoustics into their products with rugs and ceiling panels. When used in the classroom, they begin by looking at the student’s activities and base their furniture off of what is necessary for the teachers needs and the potential hazards, such as spilling. Their goal is to change classrooms from passive spaces to active spaces. Active spaces are flexible, integrate technology, encourage teamwork, and are student centered. The company as a whole strives to be environmentally friendly. Space design reflects your values, so the set up of a classroom reflects how the students will learn and process information. The modifiable element of their furniture is the most important as they can move the furniture to fit the lesson as it changes and when you change the pedagogy, the environment can change with it.
LEFT: Classmates Jessica Greene and Maddie Dosser test out an engaging workspace.
RIGHT: Here we are in a purple egg-shaped chair. Go Dins!
We ended the day with a flight to Oulu, which is situated about 600km North of Helsinki. We made this trek to the Lapland Region of the country on a very small propeller plane. It is definitely a bit chillier here than in Helsinki. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post as we continue to visit different classroom settings!