This spring, the European Campus of City-Universities (EC2U) Allliance offered student teachers an opportunity to complete a 2-4-week classroom internship at a school in one of the EC2U cities. Five students from the University of Turku took this chance and one student from Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena in Germany arrived in Turku.
One of the objectives of the EC2U Alliance is to ease the transition from studies to work by offering classroom internships to students. During the internship, students who are qualifying as teachers from the allied universities can embark on a training period at a school located in one of the cities of the Alliance, namely Turku, Jena, Poitiers, Iasi, Pavia, Salamanca and Coimbra.
Samira Schwannecke, who hails from Jena, completed her 4-week internship at the Turku Teacher Training School last March under the supervision of Vice-Principal Tuija Niemi. A peer tutor helped Samira to settle in Turku.
At the University of Jena Samira studies German as a foreign and second language. Among other things, her studies include courses in phonetics and foreign language didactics. Just before heading to Turku, Samira gained some teaching experience in Jena with university students.
– I wanted to complete two internships with different age groups, so in Turku I mainly trained in the primary school. I chose Turku for my destination since the information regarding Turku was readily available, explains Samira.
During the internships, student teachers assist learners of different ages in the classroom.
– I have observed lessons held by teacher trainees and practiced reading and pronunciation with pupils in their English classes. My duties during the days have been varied and I have received good supervision, Samira reports.
The classroom internship has added to Samira’s confidence and equipped her with skills on how to act with children.
– The internship met my expectations and I can recommend the experience to fellow student teachers, she adds.
An Internship in Romania Allowed to Obverse Similarities and Differences with Finland
One of the students who took upon himself to complete a classroom internship is Aaro Tuomela who studies to become a class teacher at the University of Turku. Aaro spent two weeks at “Grigore Moisil” Theoretical Computer Science High School of Iasi in Romania. The school offers teaching for classes 5-12.
Getting introduced to a whole new country and its school system and experiencing the world outside of Finland is what motivated Aaro to do a classroom internship.
– During the first week I observed mainly math classes and got to introduce myself to the students in English. During the second week I taught division, focusing on exercises. At the end of the class I held a short Q&A where the students were able to ask me questions about my come country Finland, explains Aaro on his duties.
He was surprised to see how similar the Finnish and Romanian education systems were.
– What also surprised me is that students had to bring their own lunch, usually a sandwich. In Finland the schools provide a free lunch. For the children of poorer families in Finland, school is the one place they are guaranteed a warm and a nourishing meal, Aaro points out.
Aaro continues that the internship will surely add to his development as a teacher and the experience has been valuable.
Working in a foreign linguistic environment has also allowed him to see things from the perspective of students who don’t speak the teaching language as their first language.
– I understood the importance of using pictures and non-verbal communication as a teacher to help those who don’t understand the language so well, he notes.
The internship has given him the courage to teach and work with students of all ages as in Turku his studies are focused on primary school teaching.
– I should always try new things and take opportunities as they come. I want to remember how I felt in a situation where I didn’t understand the language around me so I can better put myself in the position of students with a foreign background – and to remember the kindness I experienced from Romanians, he concludes.
Text: Lassi Yli-Muilu
Pictures: Lassi Yli-Muilu, Aaro Tuomela, Suvi Harvisalo