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Day 5 of the Quebec - Finland Expedition: initial training for Finnish teachers

The initial education of Finnish teachers is a long road leading to one of the most valued professions in Finland. Here are the highlights.

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Our collaborator Marc-André Girard is on an educational expedition to Finland and document it here!

(co-written with Marie-Andrée Croteau)

The teaching profession is one of the most socially valued in Finland. This is not for nothing: on the one hand, all Finnish teachers have had a master's degree in education since the early 1980s. Many go on to doctorate. It is therefore not uncommon to have doctors of education in the classroom, working with students of all ages. In addition to being practitioners, regardless of whether they have a graduate degree or a postgraduate degree, they are all educational researchers. In addition, access to teacher training is highly restricted. Indeed, approximately 10% of the candidates who formulate an application in one of the ten faculties of education are accepted. Don't become a teacher who wants to!

De facto, teachers enjoy an enviable social status and credibility. Teacher training lasts 5 years through which various courses in pedagogy, psychology and didactics intertwine with four internships spread over the duration of studies. These take place in so-called “normal” schools (“normaalikoulu” (primary) or “normaalukio” (secondary)), in this case schools belonging to universities, managed by faculties of education. The latter, by their existence, have four main objectives:

  1. Educate students enrolled in the school to respect ministerial and local programs;
  2. Train teaching students, commonly referred to as teaching trainees;
  3. Carry out basic or action research activities directly in schools, with teachers, students and even parents and other staff. It is a question of seeing to educational development and, more generally, to educational development;
  4. Develop in-service training activities for existing teachers all over Finland. Normal schools radiate across the Finnish school landscape and are seen as role models.

In addition, it is not uncommon for an associate teacher, referred to here as a mentor, to be responsible for 4 or 5 trainees simultaneously. We can therefore meet 200 trainees at the same time in large teacher-training colleges such as those in Joensuu, which is the largest teacher-training college in Finland with its four teacher-training colleges which have more than 1,400 students and 190 teachers and support staff. In total, around 850 trainees pass annually through the network of teacher training colleges.University of Eastern Finland, located in Joensuu.

We met one of these mentors, Maja, who, during her doctoral studies, conducted a study about the level of engagement of education interns in their university studies. She drew some preliminary conclusions, including the following which is particularly interesting: not surprisingly, the level of commitment to the pursuit of their studies depends on the support offered by the mentors in terms of professional development on two levels. On the one hand, support for the teaching task which includes planning, evaluation and piloting of educational activities is essential. However, the teacher's preliminary finding highlights the importance of supporting initiatives and asserting the professional identity of these future teachers. In other words, if the latter are called upon to become independent education professionals, they might as well practice from the internships!

As in Quebec, the internships provide for a level of support that evolves, from a simple observation internship to full support for the class for a few weeks. Here is an overview:

Stage 1: develop students' knowledge and learning environments through an orientation course in the profession;

Stage 2: Learn, in an elementary way, to teach disciplinary contents related to the disciplines to be taught;

Stage 3: Learn, in depth, to teach disciplinary content related to the disciplines to be taught;

Stage 4: Take full charge of a group by linking theory and practice.

For more information on Joensuu Normal Schools and Initial Teacher Education, click here.

Once the courses and data collection are completed, future teachers must write their master's thesis before obtaining their teaching certificate.

Note that teaching interns are not remunerated.

Finally, it is interesting to know that there is also a dropout phenomenon among Finnish teachers. Sadly, 23% of young teachers, with less than 5 years of experience, are thinking of leaving the profession given the workload and the complexity of the task.

To track the shipment:

Facebook page : http://t.ly/kkgE
Twitter: https://twitter.com/magirard
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxHRXb4TqoPP_lyO0GNEh7g
TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8pPbFAk/

You can also contribute to the financing of the Expedition (until December 22): https://gofund.me/4cafa552

(Editor's note: The École branchée is happy to be a media partner of this expedition! Note that we are not, however, associated with the fundraising campaign.)

About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in social studies education (1999), a master's degree in history education (2003), a master's degree in education management (2013) and a doctorate in education (2022). He specializes in school-based change management and educational leadership. He is also interested in the 21st century competencies to be developed in education. He is a principal in a public high school and gives conferences on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in schools and the professionalization of teaching. He has participated in educational expeditions in France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book "Le changement en milieu scolaire québécois" with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the 21st century school with the same publisher. He is a frequent contributor to L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and principals as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement. He is a recipient of the Régent-Fortin 2022 scholarship awarded by ADERAE for the significant contribution of his doctoral studies to the development of practice and knowledge in educational administration.

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