Thursday, 14 July 2011

Special Features of the Finnish Education System: Teacher as Future-Maker: Research-Based Teacher Education in Finland

Auli Toom of the University of Helsinki gave a presentation entitled, Teacher as Future-Maker: Research-Based Teacher Education in Finland.

Here are the notes from the presentation:

  • wide international interest in Finnish teacher education
  • PISA
  • specific characteristics of Finnish teacher education
  • huge number of applicants
  • MA for teachers
  • practice for teacher education in special teacher education schools that are part of universities
  • popular -- best applicants chosen
Teachers' responsibilities and current challenges
  • high goals of national core curriculum
  • increasing size of classes
  • pupils with special educational needs
  • multicultural issues -- more immigrants
What is the core of teachers' work?
  • teach
  • educate
  • take care
  • all of the above?
  • correspondence between competence and qualification
Different teacher education philosophy in Finland
  • e.g. deductive/intuitive approaches, school-based as in the PGCE in England
  • e.g. intuitive/inductive approaches, experiential and personal
  • e.g. rational/inductive approaches, problem-based, case approach
  • e.g. deductive/rational approaches, research-based, as in Finland with the theoretical view of pedagogical thinking, justified in the classroom
Two levels of research-based teacher education
  • e.g. general level/teaching practice --> pedagogical thinking
  • e.g. basic level/teaching practice --> everyday thinking
  • (these approaches help the teacher trainee make pedagogical decisions)
  • e.g. general level/research practice --> producing research expertise
  • e.g. basic level/research practice --> adaptation and consuming of research
  • (these approaches help the teacher trainee think critically about their own work)
Research-based approach to teacher education
  • every unit connected to research
  • conceptualization of practice
  • research methods courses, both quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • overall competence of research methods
  • Master's degree thesis
  • teachers utilize practitioner research
  • producer of research -- ability to conduct own research
  • consumers of research -- ability to understand and use research results and inform their own work
  • direct access to doctoral programs
  • completion of a teaching degree allows admission to PhD programs
  • many undertake a doctorate simultaneous to teaching
Principles of teaching practice
  • 2 practice periods
  1. focus on pedagogical practice (5 weeks, either 3rd and 4th year, or 2nd and 4th year)
  2. overall teaching practice (5 weeks)
  • most teacher education instructors have PhDs
  • "field" or "lab" schools cooperate with the teacher education courses
  • teacher education schools are part of the university
Supervision of teaching practice
  • interaction with mentors
  • tips and rational explanation
  • reflection in portfolio
Assessment of teaching practice
  • no grades -- pass/fail
  • teacher education schools supervised by those with PhDs
  • "field" or "lab" school supervisors trained to do teacher education and are compensated with money or academic credit (for a supervisor portfolio)
Teacher educators understanding of the research-based approach
  • 4 dimensions:
  1. context -- academic teacher education
  2. approach -- organizing theme of teacher education
  3. content -- curriculum of teacher education
  4. aim -- teachers' pedagogical thinking
  • relevance of the approach
  1. relevant to teachers' work
  2. teachers actively involved in curriculum development and action
  3. profession -- multi-professional collaboration
  4. no longer a static workplace
Core competencies of a future teacher
  • self-confidence
  • interaction skills
  • pedagogical skills
  • tolerate uncertainty
  • metacognitive skills
Admissions process (University of Helsinki)
  • book test
  • interview
  • group interaction/teaching exercise (e.g. 6 applicants, 15 minute mini lesson for others)
Main idea of classroom teacher education
  • interaction
  • expertise
  • society

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