Great pupils give motivation
During our interview, Hakanen says, on several occasions, how great the young people she gets to work with are.
“For me, the number one motivator is definitely the success of my pupils and smooth interaction with them.”
The Rantakylä area is home to many people with immigrant origins, and the school’s pupils have very diverse socio-economic backgrounds. According to Hakanen, there is a need for plenty of support, but fortunately, there are also appropriate resources to provide it.
“We also get constant, and perhaps even a bit surprised, feedback on how well-behaved and fine young people our pupils are.”
Lately, the pupils and teachers have been able to break away from routines by going on various Erasmus-funded excursions, which have also led to co-teaching projects across national borders.
“Together with a fellow teacher in the Netherlands, for example, I’ve designed a course called A Plastic Bottle Project, which will be implemented early next year. The course examines the product’s life cycle, materials, recycling and reuse. In addition, the pupils get to work in small international teams providing a natural setting for language and cultural exchange, and for new kind of learning.”
eTwinning, a joint online project between European schools, has also led to collaborative initiatives in which student teachers, too, get to participate.
“Thanks to a joint seminar, young teachers had a chance to meet their counterparts in other countries, allowing them to design a joint teaching session, among other things.”
Diversity of the work motivates
The everyday life of a teacher working in a teacher training school involves, besides teaching, supervising student teachers, possibly conducting research, as well as engaging in the aforementioned development and experimentation activities. Hakanen says that they take up a lot more time than working in a municipal school, where work didn’t follow a teacher home. Now, the idea of working hours is different.
“All in all, this is very rewarding and diverse work. And what’s great is that we are constantly dealing with the latest research findings, allowing us to make use of them in our work.”
Collaboration with the university is also constantly present, and new openings are planned with the School of Educational Science and Teacher Education in particular. Many teachers are also conducting research in the teacher training school.
“I’ll never get tired of hosting new student teachers, as working with them allows us to learn new things, and vice versa. Supervising future teachers is a constant motivation and enrichment to my own work, too.”
Mari Hakanen is one of the 25 full-time untenured teachers working at the University of Eastern Finland. (Situation in September 2022.)