In Teachers - We Trust!! An approach to creating Highly Proficient Teachers in Schools
Respect for Teachers >= Respect for Doctors = Respect for Lawyers.
The respect equation in Finland.
Teaching is a highly respected profession in Finland. The Finnish dream, as many people say, was for all children, regardless of their family backgrounds, to have a good school in their community. This has remained unchanged for the past four decades. It is a tough race to become a teacher in Finland as only 10% of applicants get admitted in Finnish Teacher Training Schools. Although in India we do not have specialized teacher training schools where teachers can be put to learn things that make them exceptional teachers but the approach of teacher training schools can be embedded in our school functioning in manners which can bring about the same results.
- At the Norssi Teacher Training School in Jyväskylä, Finnish teacher educators believe that teacher quality does not correlate with academic ability. Teaching potential is hidden more evenly across the range of different people.
- They have designed their teacher education system in such a way that will get the best from young individuals who have a natural passion to teach for life.
- All teachers are required to hold a Master’s degree, and initial teacher training includes teaching practice.
- Extensive training is the basis for giving teachers the autonomy to work the way they want.
Teachers working at every level of education are strongly committed to their work. The result is a highly prized profession and an education system always near the top in international rankings.
Admission in a Finnish Teacher Training School:
Teaching career is the number one choice in Finland. All those who want to become a teacher have to go through a rigorous admission process. The University of Helsinki has the following mechanism:
- The Entrance Test has two phases - Written test and Aptitude test.
- All students who clear the Written Test are invited for the second phase, the University’s specific Aptitude Test.
- Only the cream is selected. There are only 120 seats, and less than 10% applicants get admitted out of the huge numbers of aspiring educators.
- 60% students are accepted on the basis of their entrance test score and school grades combined. 40% are selected on the basis of entrance test only.
The Actual Training:
Now we know that Finnish teachers are chosen from a highly competitive field. They are then trained in theory and practice.
For a school to be the best, its teachers should be well trained, qualified and dedicated. Teachers in Finland are considered equal to Lawyers or Doctors. They play a big role in shaping a country’s future. The passion to teach is crucial, thus;
Successful education systems are those which are more concerned about finding the right people to become career-long teachers. Every individual school in India has to reverse the chain of teacher selection and retention process. Currently Indian teachers are paid less, respected less, given less autonomy and not challenged enough that they start loving their profession. This process needs to be re-engineered by school heads in a manner where a systematic and challenging selection process assures the entry of quality resources into the system supported with lucrative compensation (This is a must - School leaders in India underestimate this investment for the sake of short term profit or personal gains).
The right support and training structure, autonomy to contribute in school’s functioning, Supplementing Data monitoring tools for progress tracking, guidance from school heads and admiration & respect for the teachers for their efforts will set the tone for exceptionally progressive schools.
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- The entire process is of 6 years, in the end students leave with a Master’s degree in Teaching.
- In the first year, student teachers just observe training in a classroom.
- In the second year, they have planned lessons and presentations. Finally they have to present 3 subjects or about 12 lessons. After this, they get their Bachelor’s degree.
- In the third to fifth years, they now have to take the full load of being a teacher. A qualified teacher is always there to help and guide the student teacher.
- The qualified teacher provides regular feedback to the student teacher to help them improve and grow in confidence. Implementation in Indian schools: What can School leaders do?
- Teachers in Finland are required to participate in in-service training every year, the idea is to support the individual professional development of the teachers. Similar concept can be applied in India, where teachers can learn about new strategies and discuss the challenges they face.
- Changes in Hiring:
Like in many other professions, Principals should be able to recruit directly from institutes where they can get quality B.Ed. students who are trained to become teachers.
Students training to become teachers should have to complete a mandatory internship program in a real school. In this manner student teachers would be able to experience hands-on the challenges faced by a teacher in a classroom. Although internship is required in B.Ed. programs, applying this method in a systematic manner will help Principals in training teachers according to their school environment and getting the right resources for the school.