10 SES 17 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
One observed problem in teachers’ professional development in Finland has been lack of a clear continuum and need for integrating initial and in-service teacher education. The transition from initial education to working life is not sufficiently supported with induction procedures and continuing education seems to consist of a series of separate events that are not linked with each other systematically. It has also been argued that teachers’ professional development would benefit if it was better tied in with teachers’ and organisations’ everyday activities (Ministry of Education and Culture, 2016b).
According to a literature review (Orland-Barak, 2014) the actual activities of mentoring in educational field actualise in different ways in different national contexts. In Finland, after traditional approaches to mentoring, collaborative forms of mentoring has arrived in teachers’ professional development field. After a series of research projects (2003–2007) this development work was crystallised in Peer-Group Mentoring (PGM) model (Heikkinen, Jokinen, & Tynjälä, 2012). The PGM approach is a collaborative form of mentoring, which offers professional development to all teachers at different stages of their career.
Open Cafe project combines educating pre-service teachers and supporting in-service teachers through working together. The model connects these two - often separate and generational - teacher subgroups together to share and reflect on their experiences and challenges in teachers’ work. The main idea is to induce newcomers to teacher profession and to promote bidirectional and inter-generational learning for all. (Korhonen, H., Heikkinen, H. L. T., Kiviniemi, U., & Tynjälä, P. 2017). As reported in a study by Geeraerts, Heikkinen and Tynjälä (2018), the majority of teachers’ learning takes place in daily practice and discussions among teacher colleagues. Respondents of that study indicated that learning occurred by collaborating with colleagues like by sharing information, knowledge and experiences, by providing and receiving advice and by helping, observing, reflecting, imitating and participating, and adjusting practices.
Open Cafe procedure consists of two intertwined parts: group mentoring sessions and a school project. Peer-group mentoring is implemented in small groups, which include teacher students and teachers from different schools in the city. During the academic year, the separate small groups meet for a couple of hours once a month with a trained mentor. Teacher students and teachers meet to discuss the content, challenges and problems of teacher's daily work and to develop their professional identity at the same time. The discussion themes vary between the groups for topics are selected by group interest. The structure of the meetings is more or less similar for all groups usually beginning with settling down and having some coffee and snacks, then starting to discuss about the day’s topic.
Alongside these meetings, students and in-service teachers are paired to start cooperative school projects. The collaboration is intended to benefit all the actors. It gives students opportunities to work at school, network with working life and add study credits. Respectively it is useful for teachers, giving them help, new ideas and collegial discussions. School projects involve various themes: from practising ICT skills to live role-playing. When collaborating in these projects, the participants share their work experience and professional understanding. At the end of the academic year there is a joint final meeting for all the groups to share the good ideas and practices experienced during the school projects.
Our action research focuses on developing Open Cafe arrangement to meet the development needs of teaching staff in the best possible way. This particular study relates to the experiences of the participants – pre- and in-service teachers – in Open Cafe -mentoring during the academic year 2017–2018. That year four Open Cafe groups were completed, including three groups for classroom teacher students and one for English subject teacher students. In the procedure there were eleven in-service teachers, fourteen student teachers (N=25) plus seven mentors taking part in the procedure. The entire data of the first action round consists of written reports of teacher students and the participants’ responses on a questionnaire in 2018. Reports and descriptions are recorded in electronic format, containing content descriptions and feedback. In the questionnaire, we used a scale of 1 to 4 in two sets of questions. The questions sets focused on one hand on Open Cafe peer-mentoring sessions and on the other hand on school projects. The statements of Open Cafe group mentoring were about sharing incidents of working life; professional discussions and actions as a teacher; professional thinking; and intergenerational learning. We also asked about the suitability of this form of action in professional development of teachers. The second part of the survey focused on School projects. We asked about the project implementation and activities under it; intergenerational cooperation; thinking and actions as a teacher; professional learning in the school project, and the suitability of the activity as professional development. There were also open sections for each question area, to attract free considerations and sentiments.
Peer-group mentoring was organized in mixed groups of pre- and in-service teachers and the participants were asked for feedback and observations of the procedure. A total of thirteen attendants (52%, 6 teachers / 7 students, N=25) responded to the questionnaire in our first phase of the action research. Three individuals (1 teacher / 2 students) took part only in peer-group mentoring and ten persons (5 teachers / 5 students) participated both peer mentoring and school project. The respondents were unanimous that especially the group meetings gave the opportunity to share both the joys and worries of working life. Both the meetings and school project afforded intergenerational learning and broadened professional thinking. The replies about effects on thinking or actual working as a teacher were scattered. All the respondents considered school project flexible enough to be implemented smoothly. The projects seemed to fulfil the expectations of student teachers but teachers were a bit more critical about that. The project gave participants good possibilities for intergenerational learning but adding cooperation with different staff groups varied from school to school. The participants were somewhat aware that school projects broadened their understanding of teacher's work but their opinions diverged in reference with effecting actual working as a teacher. It seems that generally the participants saw more possibilities in group sessions for professional learning than in school project. Peer-group mentoring in mixed groups of teachers seems to provide synergies for pre- and in-service teacher development programs. The model is suitable for professional development of teachers at all career stages. Mixed group model occupies benefits of intergenerational and informal learning and brings teacher initial teacher education closer to everyday school life.
Geeraerts, K., Heikkinen, H., & Tynjälä, P. 2018. Intergenerational learning of teachers: What and how teachers learn from younger and older colleagues?, European Journal of Teacher Education, 41(4), 479–495. Retrieved on 11th January 2019 from: https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2018.1448781 Heikkinen, H., Jokinen, H., & Tynjälä, P. 2012. Teacher education and development as lifelong and lifewide learning. In H. Heikkinen, H. Jokinen & P. Tynjälä (Eds.), Peer-Group Mentoring for Teacher Development (pp. 3–30). London and New York: Routledge. Korhonen, H., Heikkinen, H. L. T., Kiviniemi, U., & Tynjälä, P. 2017. Student teachers’ experiences of participating in mixed peer mentoring groups of in-service and pre-service teachers in Finland. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 153–163. Retrieved on 11th January 2019 from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.10.011 Ministry of Education and Culture 2016b. Opettajankoulutuksen kehittämisen suuntaviivoja. Opettajankoulutusfoorumin ideoita ja ehdotuksia. [Guidelines for Developing Teacher Education. Teacher Education Forum. Ideas and Suggestions.] Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2016:34. Retrieved on 11th January 2019 from: http://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/4583171/Opettajankoulutuksen+kehitt%C3%A4misen+suuntaviivoja+-+Opettajankoulutusfoorumin+ideoita+ja+ehdotuksia Orland-Barak, L. 2014. Mediation in Mentoring: A Synthesis of Studies in Teaching and Teacher Education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 44, 180–188. Retrieved on 11th January 2019 from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0742051X14000870
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