In February 2023, a delegation of teachers from the Czech Republic spent two weeks in Finland as part of a training period during which they observed the Finnish teaching and education system.
The delegation consisted of subject teachers from Gymnázium Hostivice school which is located in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. During the visit, the teachers spent time at the Turku Teacher Training School of the University of Turku. The purpose of the visit was to collect experiences of and insights into the Finnish teaching and education system by the means of job shadowing. In other words, the Czech teachers followed and closely observed actual teaching sessions in an authentic school environment. The aim was to gain new knowledge and ideas on teaching and pedagogical methods from their Finnish peers.
Key Takeaways: Respectful Student-Teacher Interaction and Innovative Lesson Arrangements
After the two-week period, the teachers from Gymnázium Hostivice were invited to give feedback on their experiences and the main takeaways of their visit. All in all, the teachers were very pleased with their visit and felt that they have learned a lot. They were especially impressed by the Finnish teachers’ approach to students and the student-teacher interaction which they described as respectful and built on trust. This, they felt, reflected the values of the Finnish education system as a whole. The teachers also praised the atmosphere and overall design of the school which they saw as fostering interaction and learning. The local teachers’ ability to teach and interact with a student population that is very international and varied in terms of the students’ backgrounds was also seen as impressive.
In addition to the atmosphere and interaction between students and teachers, the Czech teachers valued the lesson arrangements which did not involve just regular classroom-based teaching but also featured educational opportunities in other settings. The teachers were also impressed by the so-called “reading siestas” during which students spend 15 minutes quietly reading and focusing on a book during Finnish lessons. Furthermore, the way all students were encouraged and given an opportunity to take part in exercises such music lessons was also seen as a very positive way to get students engaged into learning skills they may not otherwise acquire.
Katarina Vartiainen, Principal of the Senior High School and IB Section of the Normaalikoulu school, was pleased about the positive feedback from the Czech teachers and the visit in general. According to Principal Vartiainen, job shadowing is a great experience also for the local teachers who have a chance to see their own work through the eyes of someone else. Principal Vartiainen also explained that although some of the teaching methods the visitors witnessed may, at first, seem a little unconventional, they often work because of the pedagogical dialogue between teachers and students. When teachers openly discuss new methods and the reasons behind them with their students, the students are more prone to benefit from them.
The job shadowing visit was coordinated by the Global Educational Services of the University of Turku which provides trainings and other services for teachers and education professionals who wish to develop their pedagogical skills or to find new insights into educational leadership.