On 12 December, the Finnish Embassy in the US welcomed representatives of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of EI’s national affiliates, and international guests. Finnish Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde praised the AFT’s Share My Lesson teacher resource initiative as a reflection of Finland's own renowned commitment to teacher training and support.
AFT President Randi Weingarten and others described the Share My Lesson resource, a free, online collection of curricula and lesson plans by teachers for teachers. Afterwards, the Embassy hosted a reception as well as a hands-on demonstration of the programme. The audience at the Embassy was composed of representatives from diplomatic missions and US agencies providing foreign assistance for education and sponsoring teacher exchanges. Private contractors from the international education sector also attended.
Share My Lesson: by teachers for teachers
Share My Lesson can be used as a tool for new teachers to continue their professional development. “Sharing is caring, and giving teachers the tools to share their best lesson plans and activities is another way of valuing their work while at the same time supporting their professional growth,” said Ambassador Koukku-Ronde. Teacher training is one of the primary reasons the Finnish education system is so successful, she added. Finnish teachers are trained in universities and must hold master's degrees. “Training is at the same level as that of doctors or lawyers,” she said. “Teachers in Finland are highly valued and respected, and the profession is regarded by students a kind of dream job.”
AFT: Better preparation for teachers needed
AFT President Randi Weingarten said Finland has shown the world that there is a way, through public education, of helping all children succeed. “Finland prepares teachers like we prepare our doctors. Education of the next generation is as important to Finns as life is to us.”
She continued by stating that teaching is a sharing and caring profession: “We build off each other's work. But ironically, teachers often feel really alone. There is an all-too-common rite of passage when new teachers are just tossed the keys to the classroom. Then they're expected to figure things out and left to see if they and their students sink or swim. More rigorous teacher preparation could help remedy that.”
EI: Exchange of views welcome
“We welcome this exchange of experience between educators worldwide,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “EI will always support its affiliates in their efforts to ensure quality education and appropriate training for teachers in their countries.”
Because it is an online system, Share My Lesson serves teachers at international level particularly well. It allows educators to plug in and find more than 250,000 free resources and curriculum ideas.