Helsinki, Day #5 - We spent the entire day immersed in the Finnish teacher training system, visiting teacher training centers in the morning and the University of Helsinki in the afternoon. One of my colleagues in the US entourage, Mary Cathryn Ricker from St. Paul Federation of Teachers, captured the experience with this post on her blog. Thank you, Mary Cathryn!
Potential teachers are chosen after two or three years of undergraduate preparation through grade point average, test scores and a make-it-or-break-it interview. Ultimately it is the interview that is used to choose people to study to become teachers. The interview is conducted with content teachers, content-area professors, and an education professor. This group is looking for a virtual single-minded motivation to be with children as the priority.
Olli stressed that the role of teachers and teacher education are important to the now famous Finnish success that we are here to study.
Once chosen, these potential teachers are paired with master teachers at a teacher training school, like the secondary school I visited. To be a master teacher you must have at least two years of experience but Olli said the reality was that these teachers had much more than two years and a tremendous amount of value was placed in finding master teachers who had advanced degrees beyond the initial, mandatory Masters degree required to enter the profession.