The attractiveness of teaching is reduced by young people’s uncertainty about how they would cope in the early stages of their work.
Finland has earned a reputation as a leading country in education. Teacher education is also world-class. However, there is a weak point in our good system: support for the entry phase of new teachers is too low. According to the OECD’s international Talis 2018 comparative study of teaching and learning, only 4% of teachers have a mentor. The result is one of the weakest among the 48 countries.
The problem also emerges in other studies. A study of the attractiveness of teacher education also revealed that the attractiveness of teaching is reduced by young people’s uncertainty about how they would cope in the early stages of their work.
Models suitable for mentoring have already been developed in Finland. So you don’t have to start over. The worst mistake would be to try to bring in an alien species of mentoring from some other educational ecosystem.
In Finland, for example, peer mentoring has been developed, where teachers learn from each other and receive professional peer support.
Another promising model is tutoring. Tutor teachers have developed digital pedagogical skills extensively across the country.
Mentoring can also utilize a simultaneous teacher model in which two teachers work simultaneously with the same group of students. It allows teachers to learn from each other when they see different ways of organizing teaching.
Based on the experiments, it is possible to tailor mentoring practices suitable for schools. As municipalities are in very different situations, it is important to coordinate actions locally.
However, the rooting of mentoring is hampered by the lack of a national agreement. Municipal funds alone are not enough, so in addition to the social partners, the state is needed at the same table.
It’s time to put the weak link in training in order.
Hannu LT Heikkinen
Professor, Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä
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