TALIS 2018 (Teaching and Learning International Survey) gave further evidence on the multiple skills of Finnish teachers. Teacher’s work has become more diverse and the teacher’s role has changed in terms of pedagogy. In addition to traditional teaching, teachers are now guiding, researching, developing, teaming up, networking, and internationalising. They deserve credit for their commitment to teaching, leading, taking care of, and being present to their students.

Although the survey data were collected in 2018 before the coronavirus era, we could have predicted just by looking at the results that teachers would cope well in their daily work even in the coronavirus situation.

The survey data did indicate that teachers are innovative and capable to manage even challenging situations by developing new ideas for teaching and learning.

Challenges in teachers’ ICT skills

 There is need for improvement in teachers’ ICT skills. Finnish teachers were least confident with their own abilities to support their students’ learning by means of digital technology.

However, teachers’ ICT skills have improved gradually. As regards teaching practices in Finland, the use of ICT in classes increased the most: whereas in 2013 18% of teachers told that they used ICT in teaching, in 2018 this percentage had risen up to 51%. Across the TALIS countries, the use of ICT in teaching had increased the most in Finland during this five-year period.

Indeed, it will be interesting to see the results of the next TALIS 2024 round with regard to ICT skills and how the digital leap of the coronavirus era has influenced Finnish teachers’ pedagogical digital skills.

Teacher mentoring still scarce

Finland deviated clearly from the other TALIS countries in terms of the availability of mentoring programmes. Only less than a fifth of Finnish schools offered a mentoring programme for all their new teachers, whereas in Sweden such programmes were available in nearly every other school.

A teacher’s first work years are the most important ones for engagement in work, and therefore systematic induction is necessary.

Novice teachers must not be left on their own with their professional development. Induction or the lack thereof has an impact on one’s adaptation to the work community and on the sense of belonging, and thereby also on coping with one’s work.

New teachers face great challenges, and the initial work years are often characterised by loneliness. In many schools, a teacher is still working alone behind closed doors. When induction is taken care of successfully, it makes the new teacher feel safe, and it also has a great significance for work motivation and wellbeing at work.

Interest in teacher’s work in the future?

In the previous TALIS survey (2013), decreased interest in teacher’s profession was seen as a threat. This was visible in the contradiction teachers felt between the general respect for their work and the salary. Factors that make the profession more enticing include general appreciation for education in society, teachers’ pay level, resources in daily school life, and career progress.

Based on the findings from TALIS 2018, appreciation for teacher’s profession has increased among young teachers. According to the response data, teacher’s profession was the primary career choice for 75% of young teachers (under 30), while for teachers in the age group of 50+ this percentage was 53%.

Matti Taajamo, TALIS National Project Manager, Finnish Institute for Educational Research
Eija Puhakka, TALIS Deputy National Project Manager, Finnish Institute for Educational Research

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