The curriculum of the HAAGA-HELIA School of Vocational Teacher Education (HH SVTE) is a competence-based curriculum.
Three areas comprise the main foundation of activity for the Vocational Teacher: 1) Guidance and Counseling and Teaching and Assessment Competence, 2) Working Life and Networking Competence and 3) Research-based Development Competence. (Figure 1.)
In detail, all three competence areas and the criteria for their assessment are presented below:
1) Guidance and Counseling and Teaching and Assessment
2) Working Life and Networking
3) Research-based Development
As stated in the 2013-2014 curriculum, “due to the assumptive nature of the competence descriptions, their appropriateness and validity in relation to the work of vocational teachers is evaluated”. This indicates that after gaining awareness of the competences presented in the curriculum, the next step of paramount importance is –for us the teacher-students– to recognize our own competences, which has an impact on the choice and execution of the development areas in our pedagogical studies.
In Finland -in general- and at HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences -in particular, critical thinking and reflection is found at the cornerstone of vocational education.
In my work for the past three years as a teacher at HAAGA-HELIA UAS, the competence areas described in the curriculum reflect my actual work realistically and in proportion.
First, regarding the criteria for the assessment of the Guidance and Counseling and Teaching and Assessment Competence, students and supervisors provide feedback and assess the teacher’s intercultural and interpersonal communication skills on a regular basis with course feedback and development discussions (or even with kitchen or corridor chats!) In addition, student-oriented guidance and counseling, as well as teaching methods are vital. I personally feel comfortably with my intercultural and interpersonal communication skills, however I wish my studies at the School of Vocational Teacher Education will enhance my guidance and counseling and teaching and assessment methods and enable me to justify my choices pedagogically and ethically both for my own learning and in order to explain them to students and colleagues.
Second, regarding the criteria for the assessment of the Working Life and Networking Competence, I have being developing curricula and learning environments with colleagues, students and the business community in my own work. The focus on entrepreneurship and the collaboration with businesses are reflected in the mission of HAAGA-HELIA UAS which states, “HAAGA‐HELIA educates experts with customer service, strong sales and entrepreneurial skills. Our R&D&I activities focus on innovative products, services and business operations for the benefit of business and society.” My own personal goal would be to learn more about welfare, safety and sustainable development at work.
Third, regarding the criteria for the assessment of the Research-based Development Competence, in my three-year experience as a Vocational teacher, I have been identifying areas of Research and Development and working towards solutions that promote learning in new fields. Such an example is the specialisation programme in Culture Export Management I have created with key internal and external stakeholders and I am coordinating since 2011. More information here.
My concluding thoughts on the competence areas are that in our case the Vocational Teacher 2013 group of students, we all come from different walks of life, with different professions and diverse culture backgrounds; therefore, our diversity reflects the diversity of the modern classroom of adult education and vocational training.
In addition, there is a variety of sources of competences gained throughout life, from studies, professional background, experiences at the workplace and work tasks, hobbies and interests as well as personal life situations. Therefore, the competence areas and the criteria for their assessment vary according to our individual skills, experiences and wants as well as the skills, experiences and wants of our students and our working places and fields of vocational education. I believe my own Personal Development Plan (PDP) that will follow this autumn semester will shed light into my own needs and objectives of the study programme in order to decide on decide on the main study activities in the three competence areas for my personal development together with my guidance-counselor.
I will conclude with the words of Volkmann and Anderson on the role of the teacher that “It is a complex and dynamic equilibrium where professional self-image is balanced with a variety of roles teachers feel that they have to play (Volkmann & Anderson, 1998 as stated in D. Beijaard et al. / Teaching and Teacher Education (2004)” I plan to dedicate a separate blog post on this hot topic of the complex role of the modern vocational teacher. Stay tuned!