Methodology 10: Keeping updated
Mutual learning! Send the teacher into the workplace to learn current situations and invite employers and workmentors to the school so that they can learn the realities of college life and realities in order to gain a deeper understanding of the educational landscape.
Examples of Keeping Updated that have been piloted within the VET@work project
Teachers sometimes feel that they are becoming distanced from work and that they would need to learn the realities and update the latest techniques at a workplace. By offering teachers the opportunity to find a suitable company that would allow them to reach their own and the VET providers learning goals, teachers would not only be able to gain/develop/update their professional skills. They would also be able to establish deeper contacts and collaboration with the employer and employees of the company. They can educate work mentors while working at the company and they will become better at preparing students that wish to do their work based learning at the company where the teacher is doing the WBL.
The VET provider and the teacher plans the timing and the learning goals for the WBL period for the teacher together. They discuss the length of the period, what the teacher should do and how to arrange it practically (need for substitute teachers etc). The teacher finds a suitable company and contacts the employer and makes needed arrangements for the WBL. The teacher is in contact with the employer before the WBL begins to discuss a work schedule and work tasks.
The employer and the VET provider makes a contract for the teacher’s WBL. The employer makes sure that the teacher can perform the tasks that (s)he is supposed to do and appoints one of its staff members to become the mentor to the teacher. The employer prepares its staff and informs them what and where the teacher will work.
The teacher works as a staff member but is payed by the school. While working the teacher educates future work mentors and makes plans on how (s)he can implement the skills and methodologies learn into his/her curricula/teaching and how (s)he can disseminate his/her experience to her colleagues. The employer has regular talks with the employer and the appointed mentor to discuss the progress and expectations the employer/employees have on teachers and students that they (might) host in the future.
The employer makes sure that the teacher can do the tasks (s)he is expected to do during the WBL and makes sure that the appointed mentor has enough time to support the teacher. The employer and the employees begin to make plan on how to implement things that they have learnt from the teacher during his/her visit.
After the event
The teacher disseminates what (s)he has learnt during her placement to his/her employer and his/her colleagues. Together they make plans on how to implement the things learnt during the placement.
The VET provider, teacher, employer and the employee(s) involved in the teachers WBL evaluate the experience and make adjustments and improvements that will be implemented when the next teacher takes part in his/her WBL.
We did not manage to pilot it during the VET@work project but making a teacher/employee swop would make it possible for the teacher entering the work place as an “employee” and the employee entering the school as a “teacher” to increase a raised awareness of each other’s realities.
Employers identify that which is learned at school does not always fit with what is actually needed in practice. Employers still find offering internships a lot of work, and often do not have time to guide students. Especially, if the theory learned does not fit the practice. In order to improve this connection at knowledge level and to improve cooperation between employer and school, the internship for teachers has been set up in Lelystad, Holland.
In order to work well together, it is important to know each other’s situation. For a teacher: to know what knowledge and skills are needed to function in the workplace. Both, with regard to professional knowledge and 21st century skills. For the teachers themselves, it is also important to be aware of the latest professional developments. This allows them to keep their curriculum up-to-date and to optimally prepare students for their internship.
In Lelystad this is achieved by having teachers do their own internship at a learning company for a few days. This also has a positive impact on the cooperation between the teacher and the employer. They are in conversation with each other in the workplace, thus stimulating mutual respect and building cooperation together.
The school or the individual teacher and the employer make contact about cooperation. Both sides must be convinced of the desire, the usefulness and the need for cooperation. Clear agreements are made about the purpose of the internship and the programme.
The employer must indicate that they also want to invest time in the cooperation and be prepared to mentor the internee.
The teacher participates in the workplace and with the various disciplines learning the latest work processes and techniques by cooperating with and looking at the work of the specialists.
The teacher investigates and inventories what knowledge and skills students need to be able to do an internship at the company. What they must learn at school and what do they learn in practice?
The teacher takes stock of what interns are expected to do with regard to 21st century skills.
The employer provides structured support and technical background. Time must be set aside to inform the teacher and allow him/ her to shadow key members of the company whilst maintaining health and safety throughout.
After the event
The teacher evaluates the internship with the employer: how did the cooperation go from both sides? What has been noticed during the internship? What does the teacher take into account in the curriculum, how do both view the collaboration, etc.?
As a teacher, talk to the employer about the possible next steps.
The teacher reports his findings to his colleagues from the department where he works and what organizational improvements are required to improve collaboration?
From this, the VET Provider can identify how students can match the employer’s expectations regarding 21st century skills?
The employer should provide feedback to the VET Provider on the skills and knowledge learned and what further upskilling is required.
The teacher’s internship is an executive step to get closer between school and employer. Don’t leave it at that, make sure there is a sequel that strengthens the cooperation bond. This can be done by placing students who meet expectations, but also by, for example, inviting the employer to give guest lessons at school.
Keep the contact as lively as possible so that the employer and school can communicate permanently, and the cooperation is increasingly strengthened.
Make sure that evaluation about the collaboration and the teachers’ internships is held at least once a year. Adjust appointments and processes if necessary.