Espoon yhteislyseo teacher Lauri Hellsten honoured as Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year - “Working as a teacher means developing your own skills every day without ever being able to say that you have mastered your job”

14.10.2022 11.53Updated: 18.10.2022 8.26

The Finnish Association of Teachers of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Informatics (MAOL ry) has chosen mathematics and physics teacher Lauri Hellsten from the Espoon yhteislyseo general upper secondary school as Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year 2023, MAOL ry has announced.

An active teacher with a passion for his work

 “Lauri is very active teacher with a passion for his work and an avid proponent of both individual and community-oriented teaching methods. He has inspired students from many different backgrounds to pursue studies in physics and advanced syllabus mathematics,” said Vice-Chair of the Espoo local club of MAOL ry Anu Penttilä, describing Hellsten.

“He actively listens to his students’ thoughts and suggestions while striving to create a pleasant and safe learning environment where every student is heard. He considers it essential for students to feel that they are part of a learning community,” says Anu Penttilä in MAOL ry’s bulletin.

“Different learners need to be considered as individuals without forgetting the community-oriented nature of studying,” Hellsten summarises.

The best things about working as a teacher are the autonomy, the sense of meaning, the personal competence development and inspiring young people

The Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year Lauri Hellsten shares his thoughts about working as a teacher:

 “As trite as it sounds, I think the most inspiring aspect of my job is the young people of Espoon yhteislyseo whom I get to work with every day. Working with young people is very motivating, and the feeling that you get out of seeing how much they develop during their general upper secondary school studies, both as people and in terms of individual school subjects, simply cannot be put into words,” Hellsten says when asked about the most inspiring aspects of his work.

“In my opinion, the best things about working as a teacher are the autonomy, the sense of meaning and the personal competence development. The Finnish education system puts a lot of trust in the competence of teachers when it comes to planning curricula and provides teachers with plenty of opportunities to implement and develop their instruction. I have always felt that teaching is meaningful, because as teachers we play an important role in providing students with tools for the future and helping them find the things that they are interested in and excel at. Working as a teacher means developing your own skills every day without ever being able to say that you have mastered your job.”

“In the future, I would like to learn more about robotics and special needs teaching. I have studied robotics to some extent, but have not had any opportunities to teach courses in it. On the other hand, I am still interested in the development of multidisciplinary courses, which Espoon yhteislyseo offers a lot of. Through international networks, I have learned a great deal about the education systems of other countries, but I also feel that I still have a lot to learn there. I guess you could say that I still have plenty of interests and things to learn.”

Swept up in teaching

“In lower secondary school, I did not enjoy my classes very much, but in general upper secondary school I developed an interest in mathematics, physics, history and philosophy. We had a good student community and inspiring teachers. Towards the end of general upper secondary school, I spent a long time thinking about what kind of higher education to pursue.”

“I ended up enrolling in the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Science, from where I moved on to Helsinki University of Technology a few years later. I was engrossed in my studies and student life, until one morning an assistant lecturer from my first job called me and asked me to attend a job interview on the following day for the position of next year’s mathematics and physics teacher. At the time, I had already worked several times as a substitute teacher, but had not yet completed my degree at the University of Helsinki. Originally, my plan was to complete two degrees, but I ended up graduating from the University of Helsinki during that academic year and getting swept up in teaching,” Hellsten summarises his journey thus far.

“I would tell my younger self to have the courage to try and fail.”

Hellsten was honoured as Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year at MAOL ry’s Koulutuspäivät (Education Days) event in Otaniemi, Espoo on 8 October 2022.

Here is what Espoon yhteislyseo teacher Lauri Hellsten was honoured for

  • Hellsten has been involved in organising international projects, interdisciplinary work courses, specialist visits and a science circus with his students.
  • Outside of his work community, Hellsten has organised continuing education in assessment and teaching technology for teachers and produced hundreds of free teaching videos for the online service
  • He encourages his colleagues both within his own work community and outside of it to try out different ways of organising instruction and examining their own teaching.
Vuoden matemaattisten aineiden opettaja Lauri Hellsten kokee opetustyön merkitykselliseksi, koska opettajat ovat tärkeässä roolissa antamassa opiskelijoille työkaluja tulevaisuuteen ja auttamassa nuoria löytämään omia mielenkiinnon kohteitaan ja vahvuuksiaan.

About MAOL ry and the award

  • MAOL ry(external link) gives out the Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year award annually. The award highlights teachers of mathematics, physics, chemistry and informatics who are known as active and inspiring teachers among both colleagues and students. The work of the Mathematical Sciences Teacher of the Year is visible both inside their own classroom and outside of their school. The recipient is awarded EUR 5,000 by MAOL ry.


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  • General Upper Secondary Education
  • EYL
  • Growth and Learning
  • Work for Espoo