What Kind of Teachers will Continue to Flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

A Student is talking with the robot and at the same time entering various steps of the Math task on the robot’s keyboard. The robot is giving supportive feedback to the student all the time.

“Well done Lisa, now let’s try the next task.” The student is practicing rounding with big numbers and the robot is teaching and guiding the student.

Picture: 19 Mayıs 2018, Cumartesi Güncelleme, twitter 

One group of students is connected with students on the other corner of the world. They are telling how they have collected data of the population in near villages and cities. They are discussing what would be the best rounding accuracy for every village and city. They are debating and defending their point of view why they are rounding in different accuracy than students in the other class.

Teacher is looking from the wall monitor one group which is collecting number of cars in the near traffic roundabout. This group is doing a project work of cars and part of project is collecting data and use statistics. The group can ask help virtually from the Road Safety.

It is only couple of years ago when people were talking how artificial Intelligence is going to change the world. The use of artificial intelligence in education has become more common than we thought. We are now daily using applications of AI like:

  • grading students’ written answers
  • Bots that answer students’ questions
  • Virtual personal assistants that tutor students
  • Virtual reality and computer vision for immersive, hands-on learning
  • Simulations and gamification with rich learning analytics

We also have learned that thinking is the most important aspect of the school culture. Teachers have remained as authorities in the classroom on content, analysis and propriety. Teachers have become more vital than ever for steering students to the best, and away from the most spurious sources of information in the digital world. The 21st-century classrooms are marked by not one center of authority—the teacher as all-knowing—but by many more. The students are also authorities on technology, with the teachers as content masters and learned guides.

All this have made us to co-exist and co-create with AI and changed at last totally the Math education to the next level in the school. AI have forced teachers around the world to develop their teaching methods more versatile and students-centered.

Is the text above our future?

Every teacher today is more or less using new technology products with more or less confidence. We need to learn all the time, being life-long learners, and at the same time we think and need to be critical – what is the quality of learning?

At the same time self-driving cars have been tested, and we’ll start to take for granted disease-diagnosing algorithms. It is clear that schools will change as places and how we will teach and learn there.

We need also to be very aware that there is no way to predict exactly what students will need to know. Students are aware that they will need to be flexible, able to work collaboratively, be comfortable with experimentation and be able to embrace and embody what it means to be a lifelong learner.

Hope #AI forces us to change our Maths education

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB,  above is my answer to question of May: What kind of teachers will continue to flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

A Holistic Learning Approach for All the World’s Students in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

School of all students

Two lunchrooms of the school have been changed for the biggest restaurant in the southern part of the whole Finland. Why and how is it possible? Every May the last classes of Kirkkoharju basic school in Finland are celebrating the end of their 9 years of studies. Most of 8 grades have started to plan this day well in advance. It means that they have to first discover a theme to the day. That theme gives them ideas for the decoration and the food that the kitchen staff will prepare. But before decorating the dining halls, the normal lunchrooms, students have to practice how to serve. The teachers of domestic science will be as restaurant managers or butlers. They will give the sign for waiters and waitresses so that all three kinds of foods will be served at the same time.

The main role of celebration are the 9th grades, 15 year old students. This can be the last day they are together before going to the next step – half of them goes to colleges and half to vocational schools. They have also started to prepare this day months ago. Some of them have made their own dresses. Students have made the designs of dresses but also handicraft teachers have helped them to choose the right fabric. With class teacher the students have a possibility to talk about how to small talk with an adult in the table they sit together. They talk together about good table manners so that they can feel themselves relaxed and comfortable.  Sport teachers have taught them different dances.

Everything is ready for celebration. Waiters are waiting with the class of sparkling lemonade. Principal and assistance principal will shake visitors and students hands and welcome them. This is a good day to invite school partners, they can talk with students about their dreams and see how they have grown up to be the good citizens of community.

They toast, they hear speeches, they are valued, there are resected. For many this is the only occasion where they are in the center of a happening together with all their friends. It is an exciting reception for the waiters that all goes well. The occasion is exciting also for the 9th graders, but also for the staff of school.

When we started to build this ceremony many adults said that it will be chaos, students will get drunk and break things! No – they have always behaved perfectly. When you give them the trust and responsibility, they are happy to take it.

After eating, speeches and some program, it is time to dance. It is such a joy to look when students are dancing different kind of dances. Many months of preparations will come true. Well behaving students are ready to their future, with cognitive and emotional competencies – adaptability and social resilience.

How to create the school for all students, so that every student feels that the school is their school?  This is one example among many. What is the culture of your school – does it shape and grown the future-ready kids?

We decided to build a holistic event, where every student will be part of it and where they can learn different skills and values.  The students grow from youngsters to young adults and we support them during their journey!

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB,  above is my answer to question of April: A Holistic Learning Approach for All the World’s Students in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

 

How Are You Promoting Well-being, Health and Happiness in Your Classrooms?

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB, this is my answer to this month’s question: How are you promoting well-being, health and happiness in your classroom?

We as educators need to look at the whole education system.  That is the inside of the school and its mechanisms as well as the relationships between the people. We can make small changes with class projects but permanent changes in students’ well-being requires more structural changes. Some think schools are similar around the world, but my experience is that there can be huge differences!

Well-being Through Structures

Well-being, health and happiness can and must be promoted on many levels in the school.

First we should look the school building.  In the early 60s and even later school buildings looked like hospitals. They looked like rectangular prisms with long corridors with similar classroom on both sides. Students moved from one class to another, sometimes without any breaks.

Today we understand better the importance of environments for learning and also how important the breaks between the lessons are. Good school buildings today have modern architecture, with open areas where students can gather together, work in smaller studying places around the building such as the library.  Even in the classrooms one can have different areas for different learning situations.

In Finland our new curriculum added extra hours for sports based on education research. If you move around enough you can also concentrate better and learn more easily. Also the breaks between lessons are important. The younger the pupils the more we have focused on activities outside in the schoolyard.

Well-being Through Services

It is obvious that every child should be provided with free transportation, free lunch and free books during their studying years. In our curriculum you can read about children’s rights to have these services. Students have the right to get personal support e.g. for learning problems.  They can stay in the school nursery during the school day if needed.  In every school we have a special professional group of adults: a psychologist, principal, social worker, class teacher and sometimes the youth police. Their jobs are to do preventive work such as running anti-bullying programs. They deal with issues that class administrators are unable to handle. When issues arise with student the parents and the student take part in the meeting.

Well-being Through Democracy

School is for students and today in Finland students can take part in the decision making process.  When we were developing the new curriculum parents and students were involved in the school planning. Students have their own group “oppilaskunta”, the frat, which shares ideas and carries out activities that create a good community for all. Students in this group get training from the Finnish Red Cross.

Well-being Through Teaching and Learning

Even if all of the above is working well, the student to teacher, teacher to teacher relationships are most important. We are talking about the spirit of the school.  That’s about how students and teachers respect each other, build trust and promote student freedom. The principal of the school has a huge role and every single teacher in their classroom in terms of how they support and develop the atmosphere of the school.

In the beginning of the 7thschool year, I asked students to draw on paper what their feelings and expectations were for the mathematics lessons. I got pictures in which pupils drew themselves sitting alone by the desk, they were all in rows and the teacher was a big figure in front of the blackboard and teaching. There were also pictures, where pupils used dark colors to illustrate “signs of sweating” and anxiety towards mathematics. Those pictures proved to me that I had to make changes in math content, activities and communication and my methods of teaching.

After three years I asked the same students to draw a picture again of a math lesson. In these pictures I could see them working and talking together, smiling and expressing positive comments and including memories from several different learning situations.

Being a math teacher I can talk about the importance of how the subject is taught and how important the teacher’s relationship with is with her students. Every teacher should have some knowledge of attachment theory. It is important to be a caring teacher.  The mathematics teacher plays a key role in the quality of the student’s relationship with mathematics.

I believe that if we pay attention to the importance of our relationships with our students and make Math curriculum more meaningful, we as math teachers could make a huge change in students well-being all over the world.

 

Normalizing Struggle

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB, this is my answer to this month’s question: “Normalizing Struggle”

Who talks in the classroom?

How many questions do students ask in a lesson? Some research says that zero-point-two. Further to this, most of the questions seem to be answered in less than one second. Most being yes-no answers. Teachers talk for 90% of the lesson!

In PISA (2016), students were asked about the frequency with which their teachers use student-oriented or teacher-directed strategies in their lessons. Findings indicate that today, teacher-directed practices are used widely. Across OECD countries, eight out of ten students reported that their teachers tell them what they have to learn in every lesson, and seven out of ten students have teachers who ask questions in every lesson to check that students understand what they’re learning.

It seems that we have still lot to do, not difficult changes, so that students learn to notice that success is a chance for everyone.

Photo: Maarit Rossi

Who cares about small mistakes?

How do we do a better job of encouraging their failures rather than punishing them?  The math lesson at school needs to be a very safe place to make also mistakes. At the best mistakes outcome discussions about different ways of thinking and the students learn to listen to each other. It’s a good experience to see that by making mistakes you sometimes learn even more than just using the traditional ways of working. If the mistakes are dealt with constructive ways, they can strengthen and encourage the students to try new approaches also later on. PISA (2016) showed that the students’ positive attitude towards mathematics and the trust to their own capability is connected with their ability to solve problems.

What can happen without practice?

Last spring you could read from the online-news that the field in Beach Volley SM-tournament will have 300 kg of sand. What? Yes, you read it right. After half an hour the text was changed. The field would get 300 000 kg of sand. Also this spring we read about Trump’s budget failure – 2 trillion’s mistake!

Mistakes made in the classroom are splendid grounds for pedagogical conversations. The mistakes that come up in media are totally another issue. They cause displeasure and shame for those who have made them – they might even involve difficulties at work. Sense of proportion and experience in dealing with large numbers would have helped to avoid this trouble.

Uncertainty area for teacher or for student?

We need to change lot of Math lessons teaching methods. So it is then more question of going to the uncertainty area of the teacher. Usually teacher is in front of the classroom, showing how to work with the new concept and students repeat similar ones in similar way. What if students are active and have possibility to test their ideas and do their mistakes as part of learning process.

Here one example. If you combine estimation and rounding you will get a good learning entirety. You can do it for example like this: Bring to the classroom different amounts of different objects, like paper clips, nails, macaroni, beans, cord etc. Then put the objects on different numbered desks, let the students circulate and estimate the amounts without touching the objects. They make marks on their estimation tables and round the amounts to tens, hundreds and thousands. All the members in the group have to come to a similar understanding about the estimated amounts. When they have checked all the desks every group gets one amount of objects to count. Now they have a situation where they have to negotiate to find a sensible way of doing that.

Photo: Maarit Rossi

This is a very simple way to create a situation where students have to practice co-operation, negotiation skills and how to find a good strategy. After then the groups write down the exact amounts and the other groups practice rounding again. Very often the students notice that the estimated numbers are often too small. They also notice that the estimated rounding and the rounding of the exact amount can give them the same result.

*OECD (2016), Ten Questions for Mathematics Teachers … and how PISA can help answer them, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264265387-en.

 

Mitigating Poverty

I am honored to be named   in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2017. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “ Mitigating Poverty”,

My September blog writer is Kirsti Savikko, my sister, Headteacher in Kähäri school,Turku, Finland.

How has poverty affected students in your school experiences? What can schools do to address poverty?

This subject needs a quick look in the history of Finnish schools. The first public schools were established in 1850ties. The municipalities build them quite lazily because it was believed that the four-year-public-schools only made the children lazy and alienates them from physical work.

In 1898 the Parliament and the emperor accepted a decree that every village should be divided to such school areas that nobody had more than 5 km to school. But there was still no compulsory education.

Twenty years from that decree there was still one hundred villages without a school. In 1901 there was only seven! And ten years from that 68% from the peasants’ children went to school.

Finland got the law of compulsory education after its independency (1917) in 1921. The municipalities were obligated to establish and sustain public schools. In 1948 started the school eating – the schools had to offer free lunch to children every day. Before that the children had taken their own snack from home – which was sometimes difficult especially for poor families. The poor children could also get contribution for clothes from the municipality. We never have had school uniforms in Finland. And if the way to school was more than five km or was otherwise dangerous or difficult – the school dormitories were to be built.

ruokalautanen

The schools’ social effect was huge especially in the rural areas. In many villages the teacher was the only person who could read and write. They were well respected by the folk. They knew their students and their living conditions best. The social workers got invaluable and neutral information of families from teachers.

By the end of 1977 all public schools were changed to basic education schools – the ones we have today. The four or six years public school + five years of grammar school became 9-year-basic-school. Education and upbringing are the key factors in basic education.  The aim is to support the students’ upbringing as a human and a member of society and teach necessary skills and knowledge. And it is totally free. The teaching is free as is all the material and equipment. And they have a right to free meal every school day and in some circumstances also a free school transport.

The basic education is grades 1-9 (ages 7-16). We have about 3200 basic education schools. Most of them are run by the municipality. Under 2 % of students study in private or in state schools. In basic schools everything is free – the municipality has to provide schools with enough money for material and study visits, class trips etc. The parents can collect funds for special trips – but every student, even if his/her parents can’t provide any money, has the right to participate. The schools must have clear regulations for those situations.

So in Finland we can give equal possibilities in education to all students – in spite of where they live, how they live and the family status. I believe that education is the key for better life, too. I see no difference in “poor family” kids or “rich family” kids in their motivation to learn!

 

Making Curriculum Relevant to a New World

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB, this is my answer to this month’s question: “Making Curriculum Relevant to a  New World” 

The static old world has become a constantly changing unpredictable common village! In every corner people face the same problems or are at least are aware of them.  Which could be the real actions in the society to prevent the existence of terrorism and/or its spreading? How to make people to accept increasing population diversity? We all know very well the environmental threats, but how to change the direction of the development? WHAT should we teach to young people, when it seems that they have a lot to solve in the future? According to the Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) “We must deeply redesign curriculum to be relevant to the knowledge, skills, character qualities, and meta-learning students will need in their lives.”

How fast can national education system be changed through curriculum development? Do we need partly common global curriculum?

Curriculum has changed during my teaching time in Finland almost every tenth year. When I started my career curriculum mostly included exact descriptions of every subject and it has to be followed as the National Board of Education (NBE) wrote. Also NBE inspected the books publishing houses sold to the schools!

But then education policy changed. The reforms were made in the education system in the 1980s. Now local education providers —the municipalities—have broad autonomy.  Schools and teachers have been responsible for choosing learning materials and teaching methods since the beginning of the 1990s, when the national level inspection of learning materials was terminated.  We are valued as professionals in curriculum development, teaching and assessment at all levels. Now the core curriculum discusses values, learning, learning environments and general goals and aims, like learning of 21st century competences. The curriculum lists basic concepts in each subject but the list is just a suggestion —not obligatory.  We can plan and implement our teaching and assess students’ learning and learning outcomes, collaborate with other teachers and develop our teaching profession within the whole school context. We have a big responsibility concerning the way our students learn, but at the same time we can develop our own autonomy in designing the curriculum, using instructional strategies and assessment methods.

20161221_151931Photo: Maarit Rossi

Yes, my experience is that national curriculum can make a huge change – but is the change big and fast enough? This generation will live in global village – we need to know best education politics, latest knowledge of learning and learning practices to prepare them ready for the future!

We could have partly common curriculum in the areas concerning issues of the whole globe? How many countries have in their curriculum like some of the following text?  End poverty in all its forms everywhere. End Hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.   In 2015 the UN General Assembly formally accepted a new set of 17 measurable Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ranging from ending world poverty to achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls by 2030. You can read these goals and targets from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabledevelopmentgoals. National curriculums need to have similar global goals. Best way to put them in practice is to give teachers enough autonomy to implement them. #teachersmatter

 

IN A 21st CENTURY WORLD TEACHER LEARNING NEVER STOPS

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB, this is my answer to this month’s question: In a 21 st century world teacher learning never stops.

Every time a new technical thing has come to the school, people thought that it would change the learning! And it has never done it. We need to think what learning is about, how it can happen and are all people learning in the same way?

A young teacher may get fascinated e.g. about Flipped classroom. She/he makes a video about the new lesson in advance to students who can look it at home before the actual lesson. During the lesson teacher gives tasks to students and walks around the classroom helping those who need more support. What is new? Videos I have seen are just like lessons before. Teacher is telling the new content of the subject. Now there is not even the possibility for students to make questions at that moment they come to their mind!

I am hopeful about the possibilities of new ed-tech but at the same time I am worried that it is repeating the old understanding of learning. In behavioristic learning we pour the knowledge like water to students’ heads and believe it stays there!  Latest learning theory, social constructivist theory thinks that students need to be active in their own learning and build their knowledge structure all the time connecting the new knowledge to the old ones. Of course teacher has still the most important role in the process.

So if I would have the chance to influence ongoing professional development for teachers in my community, I would take care that all courses will be done pedagogy first!

  1. Once a year teachers should have development discussions where they can set their own goals for professional development.
  2. It would not be allowed to keep courses after the school day when teachers have already done their work and may be tired.
  3. No courses to the whole staff. If we believe to personalized learning we should also keep personalized training.
  4. Try to arrange training in co-operation with other schools in your community. You don’t always need to order external trainer – you may have the best trainers in your own staff!
  5. When you send your teacher to the external course, send always at least two. Then it is more possible that new methods start to be used in your school!
  6. We need to take account that if we want change adults’ way of teaching, they also need time for their own training. Teachers need to get part of training in groups, part by Skype or webinars, part by real practice and testing!

teachers in Finland making cube model

Photo: Maarit Rossi

One teacher told me about her good training experience. Training started so that the whole group met in internet and talked about what the training could include and what they were expecting of it. Second time they met face to face and learned new things by doing (media literacy). Next time they where divided into smaller groups and they got a task to do. They had some months time to do the work in their own school. In the last meeting groups showed their work to each other. Teachers like students could learn from others’ ideas and reflect their own learning.

You can find free Math teacher training material from www.inspirationalmath.com

 

 

Is Blended Learning Becoming Yet Another Overhyped Myth?

“Blended learning is more than just combining an online component to the traditional classroom. It is a systematic process of selecting the most appropriate media for a specific learning intervention based upon the learning objectives.” (Holden 2011)

It is clear that learning can’t be limited anymore in one place, classroom. Learning happens in different places during different times through individual life. I believe that schools for K-12 will always be one of the best places to learn and students to grow up as good citizens, and even more – global citizens. We say that the army is the last place where men see all kind of people from all levels of society.

For students to understand differences in society it is important to study and be together, to find different solutions together and learn to get along with different people – the best place for all is the School.

Small IMG_3902

Photo by  Elis Lindfors

What are the best of online learning in Blended Learning? 

  • student can work whenever it suits him/her
  • student have more of an ability to be independent
  • some of the students like to work at their own pace and work ahead if they have time. 
  • it may require more time on the student’s part: completing assignments, and logging in if there are regularly conversations with

My question is: When is blended learning necessary and when is it not? When is it best to use and when is it not?

Are there challenges for teachers when using blended learning?

Like many new things there are good and less good examples. But we have to start somewhere to use and develop new methods!

Some teachers use the term blended learning when they are doing same test or task through online. Some teachers have done a video of their following lesson and let the student just watch it. I saw a math lesson where students were copying exactly what the teacher was doing in the video. In face to face situation we teachers can lead students with good questions to understand the math content and they can build their own understanding of the knowledge.  Now they were repeating all steps after the teacher and there is a big possibility that most of them didn’t understand why.

Students need to do more than passively receive online facts; they need to be actively engaged.

One good example comes from my friend, Jaana Lindfors, a language and literature teacher in Finnish middle school.  She sent a writing assignment, a copy for each of her student.  In the beginning of lesson students open their browser and start writing instantly.  While they are writing Jaana can follow them from learning platform and give them immediate feedback. Students say it is amazing and first even little odd when suddenly they notice from the screen that teacher is following their writing. The teacher can make corrections but Jaana says that she likes to make questions, so that the student can find a better solution to his/her own writing. Students can share their work to some of their schoolmates and have then peer assessment. Jaana tells that during two lessons she can visit quite many student’s browser and give them feedback on their writing. If not she continues to give them personal feedback from her home.

Action is a key to successful online learning. It lets students practice what they’ve learned, and gives them a chance for feedback and a clearer picture of their own knowledge.

I have positive expectations to the possibilities of blended learning. I support holistic approach to 21st Century education. It means we need versatile teaching methods and balanced assessment.

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education  http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB, this is my answer to this month’s question: So what about the K-12 evolution of blended Learning?

What Do Teachers Most Want To Tell Parents?

I am honored to be named   in Top Global Teacher Bloggers / CMRubinWorld.com / Global Search for Education http://www.cmrubinworld.com/TGTB. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2017. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “ What do teachers most want to tell parents?”

My May blog writer is Kirsti Savikko, my sister, Headteacher in Kähäri school,Turku, Finland.

Ten parental school rules!

  1. You are your child’s best and only parents.

Please, do your tasks as an adult in the family the best way you can. Always reaching for  the truth and justice. And I am your child’s teacher – an expert in education who just wants to see your child to be the most capable person and adult he/she can be. I will do my tasks the best way I can. If you disagree with me – please say it to me not to your child.

  1. Don’t believe everything your child tells you about school!

Or what other students have done!  What the teacher did or didn’t do. So I promise I don’t believe everything she/he tells me about happenings at your home!

  1. Treasure you free time!

Spend your weekends with your family. Make sure that during the weekend you have a special moment(s) where your child is in the main role. She/he needs it and so do you.

  1. Respect your child – so she/he also learns to respect other people – and you.

It’s a habit that sadly has been forgotten by many people. Make sure you are easy to respect.

  1. Don’t underestimate your child’s creativity

It may not always look as art for you but to your child it’s something special and unique. Even if it’s a painting on the wall or cutting her/his hair in a new way.

  1. If you have to get a divorce, please make sure your child is 100% sure that it’s not her/his fault! In your own agony it’s easy to forget this. And also blame your husband/wife to your friends/enemies/relatives/neighbors only – your child deserves both parents.
  1. Don’t steal your child’s childhood.

It’s a one time off. She/he will never get another chance to be a child anymore. Don’t burden your child with your troubles. But be honest and only tell what she/he needs to know – and reassure you will take care of it.

47432650 - a schoolgirl studying with books on the kitchen table

  1. Don’t lie.

I assume you don’t want your child to lie to you? It goes vice versa. You don’t always have to tell the whole truth but don’t mislead your children. If you have promised something just do it.

  1. You don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s

You don’t have to buy everything your child asks for – even if everyone else in the class has them. Teach her/him the laws of sustainable development. Difficult word, but easy for you to follow.

10. The grass seldom is greener on the other side.

Don’t break families – if by any means you can avoid it. Who wins? How many loses? Is it really worth it? And yes, there are situations that the grass really is greener – then make sure everyone wins!

 

How Can We Work to Consistently Cultivate Values of Thoughtfulness and Empathy Without Directly Teaching it?

As part of the Top Global Teacher Bloggers from Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education, this is my answer to this question:

Atmosphere of school

In early 2000 British school evaluators were invited to visit some Finnish schools. I was wondering how it is possible that people who don’t even understand our language, can get any picture from our school? Later when I was myself a principal and had the opportunity to visit in many schools around Finland and some aboard, I did understand. Only looking, doing observations how students, teacher-student and teacher-teacher meet and talk to each other, you can get a picture of the atmosphere of the school. Also looking the corridors and common spaces, you get the idea of how students and their work are respected in the school.

In my opinion the ground for good learning environment for students is the prevalent human understanding of staff. How attended the teacher is with every student. I have seen schools where teachers did not say good day when passing by a student! I have been in situations when teacher is more bullying than educating student. Mostly I have seen teachers with sincere care and interest to the student’s life. School has to have values which everyone in the school knows. Every year there comes new students in the school so those values are good for them to know too.  The leader of the school has the most important role to maintain and show that values are respected in the school community.

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Photo: Steve Weaver

Role of teacher

How we behave in daily situations in school? We have hundreds of ears and eyes around us. We are role models for students all the time, even we are not conscious about it.  We can operate as agents of high ethics modelling acceptance and empathy. Furthermore, as teachers it is important to promote the development of social and emotional skills and knowledge in our students that promote mindfulness, empathy and compassion. We can be facing situations like bulling where we are expected to have opinion or solution to solve the situation.

It is important that as teachers we have common ideas when building the rules of schools. Are the rules of the school more for discipline or as a guideline to increase young people’s understanding of wrong and right? There are still schools in this world which have detention time instead of having discussions why the student did something not acceptable. In some countries teachers are still allowed to use a cane to hit and discourage the student! These practices support distrust and unfairness. How to promote the values of thoughtfulness and empathy?

What role do we give for students in the school?

I am so proud of the ways how the biggest celebrations are organized in my school. All the students from the grades 5, 3 and 1 are performing in the end of autumn term.  All students from the grades 6, 4 and 2 are performing in the end of spring term. Teachers have planned such program numbers that every child has a role. Every child is appreciated and have an important role in school community.

In many countries students have their own school faculty, where they learn how to influence and give their opinion what they want to have or change in the school practices. What about when they have a change in planning of their studies? In the Finnish curriculum this is one of the most interesting adding to student’s rights.

Shortly, celebrating unity diversity in different level, opens the doors to ethics and support high values of thoughtfulness and empathy. I hope that schools provide the best education opportunities for every child across the globe.  I hope that schools sets students on positive life tracks that will carry humankind, today and tomorrow.