Dear reader, welcome aboard! My name is Roosa and I am a Finnish teacher exploring opportunities to work abroad as an educator. While studying different education systems and their ideas of learning and teaching, I provide personalised private language lessons in Finnish and Swedish, and design teacher training courses.
Long time no writing but it feels like yesterday when I got a new job as a Finnish mentor teacher at a company called Finnish Early Childhood Education Australia, FEC for short. I have been busy with reorganising my life and finding a balance between all different projects. Another thing that changed was the Covid-19 restrictions after the disastrous second wave in Melbourne. Catching up with “the life out there” has taken most of the weekends as we can finally live semi-normal life again.
My new employer FEC provides early learning and childcare based on the Finnish education model but localised in the Australian context. They have established several HEI Schools* around Australia: three in Victoria and one New South Wales. More centres will be opened in 2021. Additionally, they have another brand called ILO which also provides a combination of the Australian and Finnish early education frameworks. As HEI means “hello” and ILO means ‘joy” in Finnish, I’m excited for new opportunities these two great concepts bring along.
As a mentor teacher from Finland working in a multicultural company inspired by a Finnish idea, my job is to share my expertise in Finnish education and combine it with the local model. After finishing teacher training provided by HEI Schools Finland, I am now working on the pedagogical planning and implementation of the HEI curriculum together with our educators. We ensure the child-centred approach by promoting learning through play and designing holistic activities and projects.
It has been nearly seven years since I last worked in early education. However, it immediately brought back happy memories of life at kindergarten. Compared to primary school, early education is more holistic in a way that it is not as much divided into academics and free time. In early education, learning is everywhere and happens all the time.
Coming back to early education from primary and secondary schools and adult education has opened my eyes again to the significance of positive learning experiences, socio-emotional competence, and development of self-awareness during the early years. There are, indeed, many reasons why early childhood education should be seen as an essential base of everything that follows it. Maybe one way to show people that it is more than a place where you leave your child for care could be, for example, introducing the Nordic model where it is called päiväkoti / daghem, “day home”.
I’m still continuing my work as a private teacher which is an excellent way to develop my teaching skills while I support other educators in their work. Having the opportunity to work with students of all ages, literally from babies to adults, I’m grateful for seeing life-long learning happening so concretely through these different projects.
Before telling you about the new part-time job I started a week ago, I wanted to write about some casual relief teacher procedures (CRT) in Australia as I was finally offered a gig after months of silence. Due to Covid-19 and school closings, there haven’t been any teacher aide gigs so I was curious to at least see an Australian school from inside and meet some other educators.
This one-day exam supervising gig was something similar to the Finnish Matriculation Exams or the Swedish National Exams. General Achievement Test (GAT), as it’s called here, is a 3h-long national exam for all year 12 students. My job was to supervise students who undertake GAT and assist them in case they needed to go to the bathroom during the exam. So nothing special about the job itself but accepting the gig was a rather interesting process. Wait for it…
To accept the supervising gig I needed to have a document proving that I’m not related to, or associated with, any of the students undertaking GAT. Also, I had to prove that I wasn’t related to, or associated with, any person engaged in teaching these year 12 students or organising the exam. However, being employed as a casual relief teacher or an administrator by the particular school would have been fine. But what’s the logic of this? I assumed that even as a CRT or admin of the school you would get to know the students and staff but guess not…
Imagine if in the Finnish Matriculation Exams or the Swedish National Exams some random people were supervising the exam. Wouldn’t it feel a bit strange? Usually, the teachers who teach the year 12 students supervise the exams. After all, they are the people who know the exam protocol best. I wonder how come they trust random people (like myself) more than their own teachers to supervise the national exams.
The document I needed was called a statutory declaration form. The purpose of this document is still a mystery to me as it doesn’t seem to be a reliable proof of anything. Basically how it works is that you state something on this form, go to an authorised witness (pharmacist, lawyer, police, or doctor for example) and have it signed. You need to prove your identity with your ID card or passport.
Because of the Covid restrictions, getting this one document signed took me three days. Firstly, I had to send it to the nearest paper shop to be printed out. Since they are not allowed to be open normally, it took one day to have the document on a physical paper.
When I received the document, I had to find an authorised witness. I went to the nearest police station where they told me that they couldn’t sign declarations due to the Covid rules. They advised me to check out something called “the Justice of the Peace” (nope, not kidding) because apparently, that was the place to sign statutory declarations. I googled it and found out that the nearest “Justice of the Peace” was that very same police station.
I decided to try a pharmacy instead. The pharmacist got angry at me because I had signed the document before her. Apparently, that is something you should never do with statutory declarations. After begging for mercy (since it was already the third day I was dealing with this task), she signed and stamped my declaration, proving that I didn’t know any of the students nor staff members of the school. But wait, how did she know that?
In the job description, it said that the dress code for an exam supervisor was “neat and professional”. I asked my housemates what it meant in practise since I hadn’t been given any specific dress code as a teacher before. The teachers knowing how to dress practically and appropriately it usually taken for granted in Finland.
My housemates said no to sneakers and jeans which I would normally wear as a teacher. So I ended up choosing neat black trousers, blouse, long open-knit cardigan, canvas shoes, and a mask, of course. In my eyes, this was an appropriate outfit for a job where I had to stand and walk for several hours.
Well, I learned that what is usually considered as common sense in Finland, is not the same in Australia. We had a large team of supervisors working that day and “the professional and neat dress code” was understood as basically anything from classical pencil skirts and heeled leather boots (which by the way, made a heck of a noise when walking around the exam location) to pyjama-looking silk pants, worn-out sneakers, and belly button revealing crop tops.
I did have a fun day at the school and it was lovely to meet other educators. Just funny to notice how differently things are done in other countries. After this another interesting experience in the Australian red tape jungle, I’m happy to start with something a little more stable. From now on, I’m working as a part-time mentor teacher for early childhood educators at HEI School Australia while continuing my own business and having Finnish and Swedish lessons online. I’m excited to meet Australian educators and contribute my Finnish pedagogical expertise in a new context so HEI let’s go!
Please welcome my favourite time of the year once again: the clock changing circus. The last time we went through this in March-April was a total disaster. Therefore, I’m now prepared with double and triple checks on all of my students’ time zones to make sure that I know what’s going on. Also, I’ve got some exciting news about the new work I accepted last week.
First let us review the facts. At the end of March, Europe changed its time from winter time (standard time) to summer time (Daylight Saving Time, DST) by setting the clocks one hour forward. On October the 25th they will change it back to the standard time. As we are located in the Southern Hemisphere and the seasons are all upside-down here in Australia, we set our clocks one hour backwards earlier this year. Now, we set the clocks forward to have the standard time again. This means that during the European spring and summer, Australian Autumn and Winter, the time difference between Finland and Eastern Australia is 7 hours and the rest of the year it’s 9h. Pretty simple, eh?
What I didn’t realise, however, was the fact that countries all around the world have different dates for changing the time. Not to mention that more than half of the countries do not observe DST, including some countries’ independent states like Queensland here in Australia. And this means that between those clock-setting dates the time difference between Finland and Victoria goes first to 8 hours for a couple of weeks and then to 7 or 9 hours depending on the time of the year.
Last March-April I wasn’t aware of the different dates when the time difference to Melbourne changed so I managed to mess up my whole schedule for a couple of weeks. The weekly lessons booked from different time zones which either changed or didn’t change the time, overlapped and I had to reschedule almost everything.
This time I prepared myself both manually and digitally by listing all my students, their time zones, and the time changing policies of their countries and making sure Google Calendar gives me the right times based on the DST changes. After all this maths my brain hurts, however I am happy because once again it is a new task that I can do as a private online teacher.
Oh yes, the new job! I signed my very first employment contract with an Australian employer and I’ll start working next week. So excited! More on this coming up so stay tuned.
Det är dags att fira! It’s the time to celebrate as I finally managed to get a full-time teacher salary by teaching online through my own business! Whoop whoop! Also, I would like to announce that in addition to Finnish classes, I’m now providing Swedish lessons for beginners. Check out my website for more information about the learning itineraries!
The original goal for Teacher Roosa was to create a business that would support me financially just enough so that I could stay in Australia for my first working holiday year, keep myself active in the world of education, and develop my teaching skills. I’m delighted to see that it has become more than that. My work has started to pay back the six months of travelling I did before settling down in Melbourne. Furthermore, I managed to create a reliable service that motivates and inspires people to learn. What more can you wish for as a teacher?
Inspired by a request I received from a customer about a month ago, I started teaching a basic Swedish course to two Finnish youths whose family is planning to move back to Finland. The timing could not have been better. Coincidentally, I had been chatting with my Swedish-speaking friends and listening to Swedish music, thinking about refreshing my Swedish skills after focusing so much on English.
But why did the Finnish-speaking students want to learn Swedish before moving back to Finland?
Through the reformation of the Finnish education system in the 1970s, the Swedish language was implemented as a compulsory part of the Finnish national curricula together with the mandatory Finnish course for Swedish-speaking Finns. In its current form, students start learning the second domestic language (Swedish or Finnish depending on their native language) in year 6 and continue until higher education. Therefore, when moving back to Finland and continuing their education in the Finnish school system, students have to attend the compulsory second domestic language course.
I thought that this preparatory course would be a good way for Finns abroad to catch-up with their peers and learn the basics, instead of jumping straight into the intermediate level when returning to Finland. Thanks to Otava’s great service, I managed to get a Swedish digital text and exercise book called Megafon 1 as a private education provider. This way we can study the same things online as the students’ Finnish classmates-to-be are learning in Finland. Utmärkt!
“Hey you were in Opettaja-lehti”, my dad writes on WhatsApp being “surprised” and sends me a link to an article in the newest Teachers’ magazine. Of course, I told him about the interview right away when Anna-Sofia Nieminen first contacted me in February this year. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty awesome to see my story printed in the magazine that I’ve seen in my family’s mailbox since I was a little kid. The article reinforced my decision to do something different and continue on my journey, despite all the doubts I had on the way.
So what did exactly happen when the COVID-19 pandemic started in February?
I had decided to apply for the first year working holiday visa in Australia to see if it was possible to work as a classroom teacher. I had heard both good and bad about the process of getting the teaching license in Victoria: some said it was easy as long as you had all the required documents, some said it could take months to complete the application. I decided to try as I was keen to work with kids again and learn about the Australian curriculum.
As you know already, things didn’t go as planned. The first problem before the coronavirus finally forced all the schools to go online was to pass the language test with the required mark. I chose to do an ISLPR test which was similar to the better-known IELTS tests but customised to your profession and, unlike in IELTS, it was possible to retake particular parts of the test without doing the whole test all over again. ISLPR stands for InternationalSecondLanguage Proficiency Ratings. It had two parts: written and spoken, which included reading and listening. For the teacher registration in Victoria, they require level 4 out of 5 which is described as “vocational proficiency”.
“Able to perform very effectively in almost all situations pertinent to social and community life and everyday commerce and recreation, and generally in almost all situations pertinent to own ‘vocational’ fields.”
I took the exam twice. First, all four skills and then only writing and speaking. In the written test you have to complete two assignments in one hour and you can’t go over or under 10% of the total 400 words. The first time, I panicked in the written part and ran out of time. This has happened to me many times before in exams with strict time limits so I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t get a 4/5. I got a 3+/5.
Strange enough, I got the same mark on the second try even though I didn’t run out of time nor made any spelling mistakes (rare for me when writing a foreign language by hand). This time I had 7 mistakes in total, and apparently, you are only allowed to have 2-4. The fatal mistakes that gave me a 3+ were:
Saying “I think that was…” (mixing tenses)
Using the phrasal verb “to give up” (being too informal)
Saying “having the honour of…” (being too formal)
Fair enough, these are quite embarrassing mistakes when you want to work as a casual relief primary school teacher. But sarcasm aside, I wanted to know more about the grading scale because I just couldn’t understand the logic. I knew I made spelling mistakes in the first one, and I didn’t even finish it so how could the assessment still be the same 3+/5? In the feedback session, they told me that this second 3+ was closer to 4 than the first one. I wonder if there are more invisible steps on this scale that can only be found out by trying again.
Even more confusing was the spoken test in which I also got 3+/5 twice. In the spoken test they interview you about your plans in Australia and your career as a teacher. I had the same tester twice and because she already knew me, she just asked how I was doing. My mistakes, or “highlights” as the testers ironically call them, were:
Talking too fast
“Finglish”, meaning that I mixed Finnish and English (when I asked for examples, they didn’t mention any specific “Finglish” words or structures because generally, it was the way I spoke that sounded Finnish)
Pronouncing the word “schedule” as [skɛdʒuːl] (like the Americans do)
Pronouncing th, for example “that”, as dh (It was funny that before she started the feedback sessions, she asked me if I were Irish because I “had the Irish th”. Wait, didn’t the Irish people also speak native English?)
I was supposed to go and do the test one more time just for the sake of all the money spent on the registration process and maybe for the sake of my dignity, just a little bit. You can still see the lack of teachers in the job market here, however, there aren’t many opportunities for casual relief teachers. So, I thought I could still apply for jobs as a teacher assistant to somehow help in this crisis. But, once again the red tape got me. Having the “wrong” degree and wrong visa didn’t get me any further with that plan either. You should have a Certificate III (a specific Teacher Aide degree) from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) to be qualified as a teacher aide. Eventually, I didn’t see the point of putting more effort into the process during these times but to focus on my own business.
Despite the obvious disappointment, I have been very happy with the experience I’ve got here in Australia so far. The challenges only made me think out of the box and come up with a plan that was even better than the original. Going through the process as far as I did, also gave me a new perspective to look at life as an immigrant again and think about the language assessment as a national institution. What do we want to achieve with language assessment in general? What means fluency and native-like skills?
Through my own business, I still get to teach students of all ages, work in English, and even learn about the Australian education system.
Still living through Melbourne’s second lockdown. My housemates and I have found a new way to break the everyday routine and have a little bit of excitement in our days of starring the screen: playing social games! So far, my favourite ones have been Monopoly Deal, and of course, the best Finnish outdoor game of all time – Mölkky – which by the way, is not “Finska” or “Battle Blocks” as they call it here in Australia.
The games got me thinking about all the social activities we used to have with my 5th graders in Sweden. That class just loved all kinds of games, challenges, and drama improvisations. And what they learnt through a game or other fun learning activities, they remembered later in the exam. It’s amazing how learning can be boosted by simply making it fun for the learners. So why not to try the same in online teaching!
The newest project in my private teaching has been converting the good old social games, like Pictionary, Alias (a Finnish word explanation game), and classic card games into online versions in which the students get to practise Finnish vocabulary and structures. For instance, the best ice breaker game on the very first lesson with Finnish as a second language students has been the game called Kuutamolla (Two Truths and a Lie) where the student and I come up with some sentences about ourselves, some of the truth and some of them lies, and try to guess which ones are true and which false.
In the small group of adult beginners, the game that made me and the students laugh the most was the Finnish Small Talk game which I invented when exploring the Monopoly Deal cards. In this game, I gave the students some questions and responses in Finnish and their task was to chat with each other by matching the phrases so that the conversation would make (at least some kind of) sense. With the wild cards like “No niin” (oh well / so / yeah) and “Mun pitää mennä. Moikka!” (I must go. Bye!), some excitement and entertainment were added to the game when a player got a new turn or made a funny match with the phrases.
Playing games is not everyone’s cup of tea – or “pala kakkua” (a piece of cake) as we say in Finnish – but it’s certainly an effective learning strategy for those who enjoy it. I haven’t noticed any difference between children and adult learners in terms of the effectiveness of game-based learning. Adults might sometimes be surprised by how beneficial playing language games together with other students can be in terms of learning. Younger learners, on the other hand, are usually more open-minded for different teaching methods; they want to try new learning activities to see if they like them or not. Anyway, the feedback I often receive from adult learners is that they discovered or understood something new about the Finnish language when trying a different learning method as it gives them a new perspective to explore the topic. That’s why I want to encourage all students to try various learning methods. You never know if the new strategy motivates you to learn more!
I am starting four new Finnish courses for small groups in August:
Learn Finnish through games: adult beginners (CEFR A0-A1)
Learn Finnish through News: adult intermediate level (CEFR A1-A2)
Game Club: young Finns living abroad, ages 7-10
Media Club: young Finns living abroad, ages 11-15
The beginner course Learn Finnish through Games and the Game Club for young Finns abroad focus on game-based learning. Meet other Finnish learners and practise everyday vocabulary, useful phrases, and basic grammar through activating social games. In News Club and the intermediate course Learn Finnish through News, the learners are encouraged to explore the Finnish language through various multimedia texts. By learning strategies to read, understand, and discuss Finnish news, the students improve their multi-literacy and communication skills in Finnish. To discover new learning strategies, check out the new courses on my website!
Wait, how did one month just pass like that? Melbourne is back in lockdown again and it feels like nothing much happened during the past six weeks. But in fact, something very exciting did happen! I accepted a new job which I hope to open new opportunities to expand my expertise in the field of education.
A Finnish start-up company called Huippu Education contacted me a couple of months ago to ask whether I was interested in creating online content for their further teacher training courses and managing some of their educational development projects around the world. Oh yes, please! As I have been following the amazing work of Huippu since last year, I was very excited to get on board with them and contribute my skills in teacher training and online learning promoting the quality of education globally.
So this is what I have been up to. I began by designing an online course for teachers and other education professionals about critical thinking in primary education. The course is one of the implementations of Huippu Education’s vision to promote OECD’s goals of improving students’ 21st-century skills around the world with the Finnish education expertise. Learn more about Huippu Education, its services, and or course, the fantastic education specialists!
The whole process of creating a course about teaching critical thinking to other teachers through an online platform was a truly comprehensive learning experience. Even though I have been studying and practising online teaching for months now, I had to review, rearrange, and re-evaluate my ideas about high-quality education. I must say that the topic “Critical thinking” really got me there.
First surfing, and eventually diving through the theories and methodology of teaching critical thinking, I discovered new perspectives to critical thinking as one of the 21st-century skills that I haven’t even thought about before. Moreover, I came up with new ideas on how it could be practised with both students and teachers. I realised there are many points in the theories that also I, as a private language teacher, could, and perhaps even should, apply in my learning service. Even though it’s usually not what the customers primarily require from their private language lessons, I have noticed that using methods promoting higher-order thinking skills is an effective way to engage learners in deeper learning. For instance, when asking higher-order questions or providing students with language problems to solve, they demonstrate a better understanding of linguistics in general and discover their ways to learn the language. From the entrepreneur point of view, methods that support meta-learning (“learning about learning”) improve the quality of the service by providing the customers with more depth than self-studying.
Another skill that I improved during this project, was developing online content. Creating a coherent and compact online course that combines multimedia sources, higher-order thinking tasks, and interactive methods wasn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when conducting everything online. My first problem to solve was to find a way to apply the methods that I was talking about into the training itself. In other words, I didn’t think it would make any sense to teach about higher-order thinking without actually doing it through higher-order tasks. Anyway, I’m very pleased with the outcome. Thanks to Vuolearning online learning platform for enabling social activities such as discussion and peer-assessment.
Gaining more experiences in online training and teacher training has given me new ideas and inspiration for developing online pedagogy. Thanks to these new insights arisen by the project Huippu Education offered me, the power of learning by teaching has been proven once again.
The course “Critical Thinking in Primary Education” is now published and ready to be enrolled by anyone who is interesting in the 21st-century skills in education. Go and check it out on Huippu Education’s online store. I’m excited to meet teachers around the world and discuss the ways to enhance students’ critical thinking skills!
Thanks to all the amazing students who booked Finnish lessons with me, my new career as a private teacher and sole trader experienced a good kickstart during its first two months. I found many new, eager, highly motivated, and hard-working students who gave me fresh inspiration for teaching the Finnish language. Simultaneously, I have enjoyed learning more about my old students and exploring their ways of learning. Knowing my students better gives me confidence and energy to keep on working and creating new ways to teach Finnish.
The newest idea that I launched recently, was small group learning. I created a small group learning model with some of my old students by bringing them together into a video call meeting to practise Finnish through dialogue and social activities. It was important to me to make sure that all the participants would feel comfortable in the group. Therefore, I recommended the first entry-level group to students who are more or less on the same level in Finnish, have similar connections to Finland, and similar reasons to learn the language. The dynamics in that group have been better than even I could have imagined! It’s always a good sign when the students who have never met before find something in common, feel comfortable sharing things about themselves to others, and can laugh together.
On the entry-level, we practise common everyday phrases, grammar, and vocabulary to use in simple conversations with other Finnish-speakers. Through various learner-centered methods, the students will improve their responding, speaking, and listening skills in Finnish. As a teacher, I enjoy having the role of a mentor who manages the learning session in the background while the students learn by interacting with each other. At the beginning of the course, however, I guide the group by using rather structured lesson plans in order to make sure that everyone has an equal chance at participating. A structured lessons plan also helps the group to stay on the topic and focus on the purpose of the lesson.
We begin the lesson with a casual chat including greeting and asking questions. After that, we have a vocabulary and grammar session, which is usually the only teacher-centered element of the lesson. To have the opportunity to apply the theory, the students will play an activating game, drama, or do another creative activity at the end of the lesson before it is time for feedback. Additionally, we have our own Google Classroom group where I share optional extra tasks and material to support self-studying. As the students get to know each other better, the structure of the meetings will naturally become more flexible; enabling free discussion and sharing experiences. I was pleasantly surprised when the students were inspired to share their own flashcards with the other group members.
I am happy to notice that this kind of small group learning works even with total beginners, and thus, I am looking forward to establishing more small groups for Finnish learners of all levels. I think it’s important that all language students start practising communication skills right at the very beginning of their learning journey because it gives them more confidence when having a conversation with native-speakers. If you wait for too long without practising any speaking, listening, or reacting, you might subconsciously raise the bar for opening your mouth. Social learning in a small group gives students peer support and motivation when they can see that there are others on the same boat. Furthermore, I have noticed that it is also an easier way to start for many students to communicate with other non-natives instead of native-speakers because are able to explain things to each other in a different way than natives. However, in order to prevent misconceptions and provide professional feedback, my role as a teacher is still essential. I like to think of language teaching as a bridge-building dialogue between the learners and native speakers. Students can always come to me and ask about something they do not understand when communicating in Finnish, receive guidance and encouragement, and continue their journey again.
In addition to courses for foreigners, I launched two group learning options for Finnish children and youths living abroad. In these new clubs – Media Club for youths aged between 10 and 15, and Story Club for children aged from 7 to 9 – the goal is to improve the native and second language learners’ conversation skills in Finnish. Through authentic age-appropriate material, dialogue, and real-life connections, I want to encourage Finnish children living abroad to share and discuss their rich and valuable understanding of different cultures. I have always admired their way of discussing different perspectives, and therefore, I would like to create an international platform for them to expand this communication. Starting with cosy small groups, we practise literacy and communication skills, asking questions from a text, and sharing thoughts. The idea is to upgrade the discussion clubs later into workshops, where the same participants who already know each other, would create their own media content or stories.
I am keen to see where the new online group learning takes me. Also, I am excited to meet new Finnish learners. Read more about the group learning options on https://www.teacherroosa.com/grouplearning, sign up for a small group course, or recommend it to a friend! 🙂
The past three weeks were insanely busy. And yet, that was mainly because of staring at the wall and thinking in isolation. My job seeking in Melbourne had come to a deadlock and I soon started to lose my motivation for the whole thing. In addition to the fact that there were only a few teaching jobs open, it seemed to take forever for me to get the teaching license in Victoria. The paperwork started to feel like, as we say in Finnish, wading through a swamp when it turned out that the Swedish and Finnish authorities were unable to send the criminal checks straight to the Victorian authorities. I would still need to copy those papers, certify them by a chemist (isn’t that weird, eh?), scan them again and sent them to the Victorian Institute of Teaching. Like the paper circus wasn’t enough, my English would need to be improved in order to pass the ridiculously tricky language test which even some natives had reputedly failed. All in all, I needed a break from that project and instead, focus on something that would give me new motivation.
As for a good old motivator, teaching my native language Finnish and studying its unique logic has been my passionate hobby for years. I continued giving casual Finnish lessons during my travels, although, this time I did it online through a learning platform called JustLearn. With flexible working hours and usually quite little preparation required, tutoring worked perfectly during my travels. It had also been a great way to keep exploring other cultures the students represented, improve my online teaching skills as well as to stay connected to Finland.
But once I couldn’t continue traveling anymore (we all know why) and I decided to stay in Melbourne, I was becoming more interested in developing my Finnish lessons and explore the potential of online teaching during the global lockdown. So why not go full power and make it my living? That became a new motivator.
I researched possibilities to work as an online teacher for schools and companies or even together with other private online teachers but couldn’t find anything considerable. Such a shame! I think there should be more Finnish providers that would gather teachers to online teaching platforms. In fact, aren’t all the schools in Finland basically doing something like that now as the teachers work remotely? Maybe it could be something to develop and expand in the future. Meanwhile, I am jumping into something I thought I would never do: becoming a sole trader.
For me, going full power and jumping into the business world meant heaps of new skills to learn. I would highly recommend adding some of these basic skills of digital marketing and web designing to the national compulsory curriculum as it comprehensively improves not just IT skills and logical thinking but also communication and marketing skills, valuing and critical thinking as well as designing and esthetical thinking.
Step 1: Products
Although the word ‘product’ sounds too capitalistic to me when talking about teaching Finnish, that’s what I basically have to create in order to call it a business. After all, I am selling service here! I chose two main products to focus on: Finnish for foreigners and Finnish for Finns abroad, both of which I have been working with before as a teacher and tutor. The third product, extra support in primary school subjects, I created for two potential student profiles: the first one is a Finnish speaking student who does their primary school curriculum in another language than Finnish and the second one is a second language learner who goes to a Finnish primary school. Therefore, the third itinerary, as I call these three learning plans, also supports language learning.
Step 2: Website design
The next step was to learn how to make a website. By the way, a great skill to learn and lots of fun once you get into it! I wanted to build the site on the story of EduExploring and by doing so, invite the students to join the amazing learning journey I’ve been on so far. All the pictures on the new site, for instance, have been taken during my EduExploring travels. As currently a “mamu” (nickname for an immigrant in Finnish) myself, I want to inspire my students to share their inspiring stories on Finland and other cultures.
Step 3: Marketing
Buying my own domain and opening a professional email address was a moment to celebrate! Once having the link to my brand new website, it was time to get viral. I shared the link in different Facebook groups that I thought would find it interesting. Thanks to my previous jobs and the EduExploring visits to Finnish schools abroad, I already had the network of the potential students. The next level on this skill will be Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Excited!
And many steps still to go… But for now, welcome to visit my new website on www.teacherroosa.com. And come on, don’t be shy! I highly appreciate your insights, helpful comments, and suggestion on the website and services provided. You can drop me a message on the comment box down below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! Cheers! 🙂
P.S. This post was dedicated to fellow mamus all around the world. Especially the expats in Finland who struggle to find a job or to pass the YKI test, you have all my sympathy, it’s not easy to be a mamu!
CORRECTION: The Finnish authorities did send the criminal check straight to Victorian Institute of Teaching but due to the coronavirus, it hasn’t arrived yet and it’s not guaranteed that it even will.
The first month of living in Melbourne and I already started to forget how to stay optimistic in the process of getting the Victorian teaching license. For sure, the Coronavirus has also had its impact on my mood as I started to get calls from my now pretty much closed home country and as the people around here are going mad with the unreasonable hoarding panic. For the first time, my family back in Europe would say that they are happy that I’m not there.
Despite the less restricted life in Australia (for now), I couldn’t help but question my recent decisions, realising, that this is not an ideal time to be an unemployed teacher in a new country. What if the license process takes until the end of the term and I run out of money? When I finally get my license, what if they close the schools in Australia as they are now doing in Finland? However, I refuse to write a letter of complaint. Here’s how I try to keep myself motivated and out of this widespread end-of-the-world mood even as unemployed in a new country.
Concern 1: What if I still need to wait for months to get the Victorian teaching license?
Waiting for an administrative process to be done is probably the worst thing I know, especially, when it keeps me from getting a job that I was trained for.
Solution: Keep busy.
The situation has given me time to re-think what I really want from my career. It made me research today’s educational field and find new interesting opportunities. I was inspired to study and expand my qualifications.
Luckily, I also found myself a part-time job as a homeschool teacher to a Finnish-Australian family. Getting back to teaching year 1 Finnish classes, I work towards maintaining and improving the bilingual kids’ Finnish skills. Thanks to Kulkurikoulu, I will simultaneously improve my own skills in teaching year 1 Finnish. What a perfect deal!
Concern 2: What if I run out of money?
Obviously, both, exploring a new country and sitting at home, cost money. Paying for waiting definitely doesn’t make it any easier to be unemployed.
Solution: Get creative.
Forced to expand career options, I have been working on my online Finnish lessons and considering to turn it into something bigger than just a hobby. As the current global situation is getting strictly limited as well as becoming quite unpredictable, the online teaching providers have (unfortunately or fortunately) found the school closings as a great opportunity for business. Might as well get on board with my online Finnish lessons! I warmly welcome all tips and recommendations regarding online teaching and starting your own website!
Concern 3: What if there aren’t any jobs when I get the teaching license?
Ironically, when I was writing this, I heard that the state of Victoria is going to close some of the schools this week so this question remains unsolved. My criminal history checks are still in process, either stuck at the authorities in Finland and Sweden or stuck somewhere on the way here. This means that the process will be delayed anyways. Not much I can do to hurry the international post in this situation.
Solution: Make the plan B to become a plan A.
I guess the only thing I can do now is to focus on the plan b’s, such as online teaching and homeschooling. Nothing is certain yet, except that we are definitely living interesting times. Stay tuned as this might be an opportunity to start something exciting!