Updating teacher’s competence with a period in working life

During a work-life period, the teacher works for an agreed period of time in an organization in the field they normally teach. The idea is not to have something special arranged for the teacher during the period spent on the field, but that they are involved in the daily life and activities of the organization.

Three smiling women standing in front of a wall.
Heini Korvenkangas (in the middle) worked in Suomenlinna with, e.g., Milla Öystilä, Tourism Specialist (on the left), and Paula Lappalainen, Communications Specialist.

Heini Korvenkangas (in the middle) worked in Suomenlinna with, e.g., Milla Öystilä, Tourism Specialist (on the left), and Paula Lappalainen, Communications Specialist.

The objective of a work-life period is to update skills and ensure that teachers are still aware of everything that’s happening in the field.

Senior Lecturers Heini Korvenkangas and Minna Kahala were recently on their first one-week work-life periods. They both considered the experience a very good one.

Korvenkangas, Senior Lecturer in Tourism, spent a week with the Governing Body of Suomenlinna.

– My own wish and goal was to find a place where I could get as many different perspectives as possible. This was achieved. I got to learn about safety, customer service, communication, orientation, and many other perspectives, she says.

Korvenkangas’s motivation for the work-life period was to see whether SAMK’s teaching met the requirements of working life.

– I was happy to discover that our teaching does meet the needs of working life. Especially now that the curriculum has been renewed, she says.

Learning the practices of the organization in the workplace

SAMK has co-operated with Suomenlinna before Korvenkangas’s visit there. This was the first time, however, that Suomenlinna hosts a teacher’s work-life period.

– I was able to bring forward my views and ideas, for example in an interpretation workshop. I was also able to attend a seminar on tourism in Helsinki, participate in the orientation of summer workers, and a trip of upper secondary school students visiting the city, she says, recalling her varied week.

Korvenkangas also says that she wants to make the degree of restonomi, i.e. Bachelor of Tourism Hospitality Business Management, better known – who are they and what is their competence. Even though students have graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Tourism Hospitality Management for many years, the qualification title is still relatively unfamiliar to many people.

What kind of working life skills do students then need, now or in the future?

– I have a boring answer to that question, but it is just true. You need to possess problem-solving skills, an ability to see the big picture, as well as interaction, communication, and empathy skills. The workplace can teach you practical things. Our job is to prepare students to work in a particular field, says Korvenkangas.

Working as a nurse on the ward

Minna Kahala sitting on a chair.
Minna Kahala works as a Senior Lecturer of Nursing at SAMK.

The background of Minna Kahala, a teacher of nursing, lies in psychiatric nursing. She had a work-life period in her former workplace in Harjavalta Hospital, the psychiatric hospital in Harjavalta.

– I used to work there as a nurse on the ward, both in adult and adolescent acute admissions wards, she says.

She was able to perform a really wide variety of tasks and she found that she missed patient work.

– I was mentored by my own former students. It was great to see that they had found their place in working life, she says.

Kahala’s field period included several discussions on how the cooperation between SAMK and Satapsykiatria (the psychiatry department of Satasairaala) has worked and how it could be developed further.

– We also discussed a lot the importance of the appeal and employee retention of the field, she says.

Higher education as a bridge to working life

The field of nursing is very wide, and there is not enough time to teach or absorb all the workplace skills during the studies. However, the curriculum provides a good basis and the upcoming trainings offered by continuing education services help one to increase one’s competence. In working life, skills and knowledge are naturally gathered further.

– The most important thing in nursing is the skill of meeting and interacting with people. You need to have to courage to listen and be there for people. And to adapt. Nowadays, people talk a lot about resilience, and the skills related to that are definitely needed in working life, says Kahala.

She sees SAMK as a bridge to working life.

– Our job is to take our students to work life. And we need to know the realities of the other side of the bridge ourselves, she says.

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