Workshop on good practices - concrete tips and reflection on different methods

The EME project participants from Finland met for a one-day workshop in Tampere in August. The goal of the day was to have a closer look at our national good practices and to be able to present them to our transnational partners.

Our pre-workshop assignment was to have a look at log entries written by the peer group leaders in the Catch up with Work project. The entries describe various methods used in the group meetings to engage the group participants, to recognize their skills and to empower them to find a job or further training in Finland. From the log entries we could see how these methods worked out in practice.   

Hanna Takolander, the project manager of Catch up with Work, opened the seminar with an introduction to the project. Our good practices presented in the EME project are a part of the Catch up with Work project activities, so from the introduction we learned how they have worked out in real situations. Hanna gave us practical examples from the project, so that we could reflect on which methods worked well and which didn't. After the introduction we continued with the workshop assignments in smaller groups.  

Reflecting on different methods – Workshop 1 

During the day we had two workshop assignments. In the first workshop we discussed in small groups the relevant and good methods that have been used in Catch up with Work peer groups. We reflected on how the methods have worked in practice and how they have improved the participants’ learning, the recognition of their skills and their commitment to the peer group activity, and how they have created a sense of belonging in the group. We also discussed the importance of the peer tutors' guidance and support. 

In the assignment every group selected the best practices and wrote them on post-its. All the post-its were presented and categorized under the three EME working group themes: recruitment and engagement of participants, recognition and validation of skills and introduction for staff and employers. We also opted to include a fourth theme: the support for the peer group participants in finding employment. Many good practices fell under this theme, which is no surprise, as it’s one of the central goals for the whole EME project.  

One conclusion of the first workshop was that many practically oriented methods had an empowering effect on the participants. One method that we discussed more thoroughly as a practical example was the "elevator pitch" where the aim for the participants is to practice how to present themselves and their skills in a short speech in Finnish. Practicing the elevator pitch can be very useful when you are preparing for a job interview. You can also improve your elevator pitch by recording it. 

Continuing in the working groups – Workshop 2 

In the second workshop we were divided in smaller groups according to our own EME theme-based working group. The assignment was to describe more thoroughly the good practices and to discuss how they support the aim of our working group. We wrote down different methods that are transferable and empowering.  

In my group we discussed examples of methods that help the participants to reflect on their skills and qualities, to gain awareness of their strengths and to recognize their competences and skills. The "hand-method" was given as an example. The participant draws a picture of their hands on a piece of paper, following the contours of their hands. In the groups, this was no easy task for everyone, maybe due to lack of exercise in drawing. On each finger of the one hand they write a positive quality they possess and on each finger of the other hand, possibilities for improvement. 

In the next EME working group Skype meeting we will introduce some of these good practices and hope to receive feedback and useful comments. 

Bringing good practices to a more concrete level 

The day clarified our direction and goals. We moved to a more concrete level and it’s going to be easier to continue our work from here on. The group discussions in small groups were very rewarding. It is easier to continue working with the recognition, documentation and evaluation of good practices, when you are told about various practical examples and are presented with different points of view. 

We hope that our transnational partners can make good use of our methods in their own project activities.  

The Finnish project participants were pleased with the workshop session. 

Kia Lindberg, Teacher / Guidance Counsellor
Institute of Adult Education in Helsinki