We met up with Tuuli, our grade 7 class teacher, to hear more about our learning community. As they are working with our senior students, Tuuli and her teammates are creating our secondary level in practice. Here's what she had to say about the first 6 months at FISM.
1. What were the main reasons you wanted to join FISM, and move to Maldives?
I was looking for new perspectives to teaching and learning; Finnish education combined with an international learning environment felt like an opportunity to develop myself professionally. I was also curious, because I have been travelling a lot, but didn’t know much about Maldives.
2. What is “the Finnish way of teaching” all about? What are the key things in your opinion?
First of all, I value the pedagogical autonomy in Finnish school system, including the right to choose the most suitable teaching methods for the students. Learning by doing is a big part of our daily school life.
Secondly, equality. Each student has individual needs. Assessment is part of the daily schoolwork, and instead of comparing the students to each other, we concentrate on the progress they make in their individual learning processes.
Lastly, developing students’ self-knowledge as well as thinking and study skills helps them to become aware of their own progress and learning.
3. What are the biggest differences with teaching at FISM compared to your career in Finland?
Team teaching is the biggest difference for sure. We do most of the planning together, and there are always two teachers in a classroom to share the work and responsibilities. Also, the working days are quite full here and life is more work-oriented than in Finland.
Personally speaking, teaching in English means that I need to use more time on lesson planning from the language point of view, but on the other hand, I'm happy to improve my English skills.
In addition, we focus more on developing our teaching skills and methods, both on a personal and school level. That is something I really appreciate.
4. And what are the similarities?
I would say that the focus is always on learning. Learning to learn, thinking and creativity are at the core of our daily learning. Collaboration between teachers as well as students is the tool which helps everyone to reach their full potential. Also, learning by doing makes learning fun.
5. What is the single best thing about FISM for you?
I’m happy to be part of this community where learning is not only for the students, but also for teachers who are willing to develop themselves professionally.
I also feel that everyone is taking good care of each other, which is important when you are far away from your home country. I moved here alone, so people I work with are not just colleagues, they are also friends and family. I spend a lot of time with my colleagues after work. We, for example, go diving together. I love it and It’s a good way to keep life in balance.
6. How has teaching 7th graders been for you so far?
As a class teacher I have to admit that teaching 7th graders was a huge step, but I'm so glad I took it! I have enjoyed every minute of it. The role of the teacher is different when the students are able to take more control of their own learning. I enjoy our discussions and the way I can help them widen their awareness in such topics like sustainability.
7. As you’re teaching our senior students, you are paving the way for others and building our secondary level in practice. How can you combine both teaching and developing the school at the same time?
I’m lucky to have a great team of teachers sharing the work with me. Planning together is included in our weekly schedule, and sharing ideas and experiences with the team as well as letting every teacher to use their personal strengths comes out as more interesting lessons. Also, team teaching with subject teachers enables planning cross curricular learning projects, which makes learning meaningful for the students.
8. So far, what has been your biggest success as a teacher in FISM? What are you proud of?
I’m teaching Study Counselling for the first time in my career. We recently organized the first Work practice day in our schools’ history. Instead of coming to school the students went to work to get experience of working life and practise their working skills. The local employers were as excited as the students about it and shared the news on social media. I think we all will remember that day as one of the highlights of this school year.