Teacher Professional Development in Finland: Towards a More Holistic Approach

By September 15, 2020 Blog

The article reflects on teacher professional development as a continuum that starts during pre-service time, continues into the first years of newly qualified teachers’ induction phase, and spans a career-long development throughout their teaching careers. Finnish teachers work in contexts that provide high professional autonomy and agency in their work. Pre-service teacher education prepares them for this responsible role. In earlier years, in-service training occurred on training days and through short courses.

The new trend sees teachers as developers in the whole school community. Teachers have a research-based orientation in pre-service teacher education, which makes them capable to design school-based projects and their own development as it relates to school development. Four cases in which new trends have already been implemented, these best practices are examples of how to:

  • Support the school community to cross boundaries towards multi-professional cooperation
  • Design an innovative school community using a design-based approach together with many partners
  • Connect pre-service and in-service research-based teacher education in science, technology, and math (STEM) teaching
  • Promote induction for new teachers

Finnish teachers play a role that is often described as “teacher leadership”. Lieberman (1992) and Hilti (2011) have outlined the knowledge base of this type of teacher. Teacher leadership means that teachers are goal-oriented, and they should have a clear vision of school development and high-quality teaching, and moreover, they are able to work collaboratively and in interaction with other teachers towards those goals. Teachers should be able to consume research-based knowledge and have a thorough understanding of the teaching and learning process needed to act as a curriculum specialist. Professional development needs high-quality pre-service education in which critical reflection and research orientation are important. But teachers’ professional development also needs school-based structures that allow and encourage sharing and cooperation. School development cannot be separated from teachers’ development.

Source: Semantic Scholar

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