“I’m the one who steps in and helps to solve small problems before things escalate,” says School Coach Inkeri Tiitinen, describing her work at the Tulliportti Teacher Training School.
She is one of the two school coaches hired a little over a year ago to work in the lower secondary schools of the University of Eastern Finland Teacher Training School.
“The recruitment of the school coaches was motivated by concerns over increasing school absenteeism in basic education. The school coaches have been tasked with supporting pupils’ positive emotional relationship with their school, friends and themselves, thus promoting school engagement,” says Jyrki Korkki, School Principal for Basic Education.
Tiitinen’s work involves encountering pupils in different ways, both face-to-face and on social media. For many young people, it is easier to talk about difficult and confidential things via a social media app than face-to-face. And for Tiitinen, that works very well.
“My work involves anticipating all sorts of things – if no one is there to prevent and solve small problems, they will escalate and become major ones.”
Upon starting her work, Tiitinen suspected that she would gain pupils’ acceptance and trust gradually, over the first autumn.
“But something very different happened: pupils have literally sought my company right from the very first days.”
Events with pupils
The Rantakylä Teacher Training School, too, as a school coach, but the coaches’ job descriptions aren’t entirely identical. Both have had the opportunity to influence the content of their work.
“Of course, our work is built around the framework given by the school, but I also get to bring a lot of myself to the way I respond to pupils’ needs. I’ve been able to shape my work according to my personality, strengths and previous work experience,” Tiitinen says.
Her previous work experience is in the fields of, e.g., theatre, circus and physical activity. This combination has since been visible in the everyday life of the Tulliportti Teacher Training School. For example, the new school year was kicked off with a carnival-like event inspired by Tiitinen.
“We had a bouncy castle, a crafts workshop, a pop-corn cart and all sorts of games.”
As part of her everyday work, Tiitinen also plans events and recess activities for the lower secondary school, with many of them stemming from pupils’ requests and ideas.
“We have, for example, a homework club and silent recess, and once a month we organise a well-being session with a changing theme for the entire school.”