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Remarkably, life-changing teachers find a way to stay calm amid the chaos and play the long game, giving their students the time and support they need to learn. Judy Barrera remembers Bernie Griff, her third-grade teacher. He gave me so much while I probably gave him a headache! Ingram taught me to slow down and keep my thinking ahead of the work.

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If life-changing teachers are patient, they also know when to change gears and get tough. For Claire Bush, that someone was Mr. Zimmermann, her 12th-grade English teacher. He was the only one who actually called me on my crap and challenged me. Being challenged actually helped me reach my potential. I wish I had the chance to thank him. He believed that we could always do more, and taught us to never settle.

He stretched us with French existential literature. We had to give speeches, put on plays, and individually meet pronunciation and writing goals. He laughed with us, got mad and frustrated with us, and celebrated with us. Most of us have had some sort of self-doubt, but many students are crippled by it.

High school biology teacher Mr. I just needed to believe in myself. He died while I was his student and I cried like he was family. He changed my life. I hope I am half the teacher to my students that she was to me. Counselors and coaches can play this pivotal role as well.

Teacher education - Wikipedia

For a kid who was struggling to figure out where I fit, this went a long way. Showing love for students—through small but meaningful gestures of kindness—is far and away the most impactful thing life-changing teachers do.


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When Michelle Moyle was sick in bed, her fourth-grade teacher, Liz Thomas, arrived at her house with a stack of books to cheer her up—a gesture Michelle remembers some 38 years later. If home visits are too hard, a positive phone call can do the trick. You could tell in the way she taught us, making learning fun by dressing up as a dinosaur or pilgrim. You never knew what was in her bag of tricks.

The quality of Finnish education has been promoted through a decentralised approach since the s, in all areas of governance. Following this decentralisation, only basic guidelines are prepared at a national level, such as framework curricula and teacher education strategies. Finland has never based its educational system on standardised testing, as have many countries that follow an outcome-based educational model.

Helping Immigrant Students Adjust to New Schools, New Lives

Providers of education, typically municipalities, have been responsible for quality assurance and the preparation of local curricula, in collaboration with local stakeholders and families. Teachers in Finland are highly educated. An essential characteristic of teacher education in Finland has been its emphasis on research [ 3 ].

Following this perspective, student teachers learn both how to consume and how to produce educational knowledge. This research knowledge is needed for local curriculum planning and the development of teaching and school practices, as well as for the assessment of teaching and learning. Over recent decades, studies have indicated that local curriculum processes have inspired and empowered teachers and principals to develop the local curriculum and their own work processes and, moreover, to increase the quality of education overall.

Education authorities and national-level education policymakers trust professional teachers [ 4 , 5 ]. The teaching profession in Finland has always enjoyed great public respect and appreciation [ 6 ].


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There are several reasons why teaching is an attractive occupation in Finland. In addition to the academic status of teachers, they enjoy collaboration with and receive support from school leaders and communities. Moreover, national education policy and its practical implementation, including the strong culture of quality and the key role of teachers in assessment activities, support the professional ethos of teachers [ 7 ]. Decentralisation allows teachers to consider local contexts and to address diversity among the students they teach. Decentralisation in education is strongly linked to the Finnish way of interpreting teacher professionalism and the status of teachers in Finnish society.

The aim of this chapter is to analyse how professional teachers are educated in the Finnish educational context and how teacher education has improved to position the teaching profession for new and challenging contexts in the future. First, a short overview of the research on teacher professionalism and effectiveness is introduced. Then, the successes and challenges of the Finnish educational context and the role of teachers in this environment are discussed. Third, primary and secondary teacher education at the University of Helsinki is shortly introduced as an example of a teacher education programme.

Finally, an analysis of teacher education reform will be offered, concentrating on how the pursuit of this goal has been supported through collaborative strategies.

Teacher education

A key goal of teacher education in all countries is to educate high-quality, professional teachers through a high-quality post-secondary programme and then support teachers through their career in professional development. However, different definitions and interpretations have been offered concerning teacher professionalism. Several other terms, including effective, competent, expert, or ideal teachers are used in a similar way as a professional teacher [ 8 , 9 , 10 ]. In the first case, teachers reaching high levels of quality are typically called professional teachers and in the third case, referred to as effective teachers.

Planning, broadly conceived, includes all steps from the planning of the local curriculum to the planning of a single lesson. Finland has followed this input type of orientation in the education of professional teachers. Teacher professionalism does not only refer to the competence of individual teachers but also to their status. Overall professionalism depends on factors operating at the school level and on cultural and education policy as well as such individual characteristics as their knowledge base, teaching philosophy and interaction and collaboration skills [ 11 ].

Important school-level factors include the nature of school leadership, the culture of collaboration and the structure of networks and school-society-family partnerships. Cultural and education policy factors include the state-level context, including whether the country is following a more accountability-oriented educational policy or whether it trusts teachers without relying heavily on practices of inspection and testing. To characterise teacher professionalism, a description of their knowledge base is the logical starting point. Content subject matter knowledge in a certain domain includes both conceptual and procedural knowledge.

Furthermore, a teacher needs to understand the nature of the knowledge, that is, the underlying epistemological and ontological issues. The second knowledge category is pedagogical content knowledge PCK , which is a knowledge domain that distinguishes teachers from other subject specialists [ 13 , 17 ]. PCK is the synthesis of all knowledge needed for teaching and learning a certain topic [ 14 ].

In Finnish education context, instead of PCK subject pedagogy or didactics is used as a term. The third main category of teacher knowledge is general pedagogical knowledge GPK [ 18 ]. Morine-Dershimer and Kent [ 19 ] argue GPK consists of the following areas: 1 classroom management and organisation, 2 instructional models and strategies and 3 classroom communication and discourse.

Research on teacher knowledge typically focuses on the knowledge teachers need in classroom situations; however, they also need certain knowledge outside their classroom activities. For example, retaining and enhancing their professionalism requires competences for both networking and life-long learning.

Networking both in and out of school, and also cultivating partnerships, are important areas of competence for professional teachers. Networks allow the sharing of ideas, opinions and experiences and are also important in the creation and adoption of educational innovations [ 20 ]. In a partnership, at least two parties are engaged in collaborating in pursuit of common aims.

Networks such as grade-level teams and principal teams and, moreover, networks with healthcare experts are important in-school networks.


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  • Moreover, networking and partnerships are needed in engagements with entities outside the school, including organisations and companies in the surrounding community, and especially with parents. School-family partnerships can be cultivated through school-family events and personal meetings to support communication and the clarification of shared goals. Another competence that is missing from the knowledge base initially defined earlier is the competence for life-long learning. A professional teacher is ready to learn new knowledge needed in the teaching profession.

    This competence is often assumed to be developed through the study of research methodology and engagement in research activity. Therefore, a professional teacher is viewed as both a critical user as well as a producer of educational knowledge [ 21 , 22 ]. A professional teacher is a user of educational knowledge when theory and practical experience are combined and when educational situations are interpreted through reflection.

    Reflection refers to the process in which an experience is recalled, considered and evaluated, usually in relation to a broader purpose. Equality is an important value in Finnish education. Free education is available at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Moreover, free health care, counselling and library services are available for students at all levels. Special education in Finland aims to integrate all kinds of learners into the same classrooms and prevent students from dropping out.

    The goal of low early school leaving ESL levels is emphasised in Finnish education policy documents [ 24 ]. Another characteristic of the Finnish education system is its strongly decentralised structure and its culture of trust. Trust means that educational authorities and national-level policymakers trust teachers, together with principals, headmasters and parents, to know how to provide the best education for children and youth in a particular district. Schools and teachers have been responsible for choosing learning materials and teaching methods since the beginning of the s, when national-level inspection of learning materials was terminated.