Educators from around the world met at the Educational Leadership Conference
During 18-20 August 2022, TAMK hosted the Educational Leadership Conference. The conference was organised by the Master’s Degree Programme in Educational Leadership (MEL). These three days ended the face-to-face intensive weeks for the 22MEL and 21MEL student groups.
The three day programme of MELposium 2022 was filled with speakers, round table discussions and poster presentations. MELposium is a Symposium for Master’s in Educational Leadership students, alumni and staff, which creates the opportunity for in-person connections. In the evenings, the participants enjoyed cultural and social activities such as a sauna evening.
Teachers as leaders
A topic that was repeated throughout the conference was change and leading educational organisations. In this context the need for persistence and patience is evident. As many speakers mentioned, it is important to “Keep the eyes on the prize” and stay focused despite all distractions in order to improve the learning opportunities for the students.
Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of International Baccalaureate and former Finnish Minister of Education and Science, emphasised the importance of focusing on the purpose of education first. All decisions such as what kind of curriculum or pedagogical choices are needed should start with discussion the purpose and values first.
Moreover, there is a need for resilience and flexibility. As with every innovation, also in educational innovations there are early adaptors and professionals who will oppose to change.
“It is important to listen to opposing ideas and receive feedback. It gets us to think critically and see the whole picture,” comments Mark Curcher, TAMK Senior Lecturer in Business & Media.
Education is complex and there is no simple linear process to see results. There are many variables, and it takes time for all those to emerge and come into place.
Leading through challenging times
In moments of crisis, actions that have value are vital. Going beyond theories and experimentations, a crisis forces us to make decisions fast and act. Times of crisis can create the setting for people to discover and show their best self.
In every situation, educators function as role models for their students and communities. Particularly in moments of crisis, it is important to have clarity on their goals. Clear communication of the educational goals and a sense of security allow the community to withstand challenges and prevail.
“Our role is to give people hope and model the way towards a better future. Little steps can go a long way,” reminds Päivi Mayor, TAMK Principal Lecturer of Leadership in Business & Media.
Uliana Furiv, Associate Project Officer for International Institute for Educational Planning in UNESCO, brought insight on how Ukrainian Higher Education Institutions have operated in times of armed conflict. According to her, the main step towards crisis management has been the empowerment and ability for educators to take initiative and act fast. In unprecedented times, the case often is that there has been no action plan drawn, yet a response needs to be immediate. Building trust and empowering the educators within an organisation over the years, allows them to be confident and proactive even in terrifying situations.
“In challenging times, we have a big responsibility of understanding the whole picture and not only portray that picture to our students but also empower them with the necessary tools,” adds Oscar Ávila Åkerberg, MEL alumni and Extracurricular Activities Coordinator in International School of Havana in Cuba.
One of the outcomes of the Educational Leadership Master’s Degree is to become change-makers for the future of education. The graduating students build their identity of educational leaders and directly impact their communities with meaningful and well-thought actions for a brighter future.
“It was interesting working on similar projects with peers from different parts of the world and building support systems; either academic or emotional support,” exclaims Oscar Åkerberg.
Building collaborative networks between educators around the world is a central element of this Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Networks are really important in giving confidence in the difficult journey of change implementation. A strong network is a great tool that can be utilised throughout the alumni’s career.
“As long as this programme exists, we will always offer the opportunity for alumni to come back and make new connections,” exclaims Päivi Mayor.
TAMK Master’s Degree Programme in Educational Leadership is a unique collaborative distance-learning programme. It is organised mainly online with three interactive and intensive weeks in Finland. Learn more about the degree here.
In the conference the MEL team launched this new TAMK publication “Educational Leadership – Global Change Agents in Action” The publication includes scientific articles, essays and personal stories from international students, graduates, lecturers and colleagues of the Master of Business Administration, Educational Leadership (MEL). The publication has been released to celebrate five years of the programme that started in 2017.
Text and photographs: Dimitra Panopoulou-Huovila