Vocational teacher Kimmo Siuruainen says that commitment to work starts from understanding what kind of example he gives to young students. In addition to professional competence, a teacher is required to be resolute, understanding and sometimes caring.
The past COVID-19 pandemic year has had a massive influence on the tourism industry. Amid redundancies, layoffs and declining tourist flows, how can we inspire young people in the tourism industry when the future outlook seems fuzzy, to say the least?
– The situation is difficult, but many students have a positive attitude towards the future. However, it is true that competition for jobs will be fierce. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to encourage my students to study different subjects in various ways, so that their employment opportunities are better, says vocational teacher Kimmo Siuruainen.
Kimmo teaches future tourism service providers, or tourist guides, in the Rovaniemi Municipal Federation of Education (REDU). He concretely expands the working life prospects of his students by teaching them, for example, the design and maintenance of the structures of tourism industry. Special expertise can help the student to find employment in the future also outside the traditional tourism seasons.
– A tourist guide can benefit from various professional skills, for example, how to repair a snowmobile. My job is to encourage, introduce alternatives and help young people find their own stuff.
My job is to encourage, introduce alternatives and help young people find their own stuff.
A vocational teacher is a double professional
Vocational teachers are top experts in at least two fields. In addition to the subject field they teach, they master pedagogy. That is, how to inspire the student to learn.
Kimmo Siuruainen has gained experience and competence from several different fields during his career. He serves as a living example to his students on how a constant desire to learn and a broad interest can build a meaningful and diverse career.
Prior to his current job, he has worked as a forestry engineer, woodworking-machine operator and metal worker, among others. He has gained teaching experience among young people looking for their own field of education in VALMA education, as a teacher of youth and leisure instructors and as a teacher of land surveying.
– While working, I have completed pedagogical studies, a master's degree in forestry engineering and completed wilderness guide training.
A successful student is the best gift to a teacher
In Kimmo's opinion, the best thing about being a teacher is that he sees the students succeed, such as driving an ATV safely onto a trailer. It might sound simple, but there are many things to consider in teaching.
– Students are nervous, and they might be at very different stages of life. Some are young first-timers and some are adults studying for a new profession, and none of them has driven an ATV before. It is important for me to create these feelings and experiences of success, through which courage and faith in their own skills are strengthened little by little.
It is important for me to create these feelings and experiences of success.
Understanding and empathetic role model
Kimmo names professionalism and understanding as the most important qualities of a teacher. In addition to expertise, professionalism essentially includes resoluteness and the ability to treat everyone equally.
The importance of understanding, on the other hand, is especially emphasised when working with young people.
– You have to learn to read between the lines. Students are often really young. Sometimes you have to look after them and make sure that they don't, for example, go hiking in a wintry forest with plain sneakers.
Students are often really young. Sometimes you have to look after them.
Kimmo's commitment to his work is strongly based on the understanding of what it takes to be an example. He believes that sharing personal experiences, in particular, is important in the growth process.
– It has been awakening to notice how young people strive and find their place even if they have very different and often difficult starting points. I have been proud to see them become skilled professionals and taxpayers.