The global pandemic has created a significant challenge for schools worldwide. The ability to teach remotely has become more important than ever, and the situation has required a lot of independence from teachers.
In Finland, teacher training is based on teachers’ self-reflection and their capability to work independently. Thanks to this, teachers in Finland were able to start teaching remotely within 48 hours of the pandemic hitting. This shows that high quality teacher training pays off when schools are faced with exceptional circumstances.
Collaboration Based on Finnish Education Expertise
In March 2020, the University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+ partnered with the Sharjah Private Education Authority to provide an online training programme for leaders of private schools in the Emirate of Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates.
HY+ designed the “Learning from a Distance” programme based on the Finnish education system and teacher training practices, with an emphasis on 21st century skills and student-centeredness. The programme covered how to apply distance learning to daily working processes, with methods
and examples derived from the Finnish model.
The participants found the training extremely useful, not only in terms of delivering online teaching in the face of COVID-19, but also in developing their pedagogical skills and school operations in general. Due to the success of the programme, HY+ and the Sharjah Education Academy (SEA) organised two more online training programmes in January 2021.
The “Early-Learners – Inquiry-Based Learning” programme was organised for over 400 early educators from the Emirate of Sharjah, and included an in-depth introduction to inquiry-based learning, how to set learning targets correctly, and how to assess learning. The “Leadership During Exceptional Times” programme, at which we will take a closer look in the following section, aimed to tackle the challenges created by the pandemic for school leadership.
Leadership During Exceptional Times
In addition to teachers, school leadership has been strained during the pandemic as principals, vice-principals and head teachers have been forced to lead, coordinate, support and motivate their teaching faculties from a distance. With schools constantly closing and re-opening, and solutions and adjustments needed accordingly to enable blended learning, the situation requires innovativeness and firm leadership.
250 school leaders from Sharjah participated in the online programme, which covered a range of topics including broad-based pedagogical leadership in the work community, leadership from a
distance during the pandemic, leadership in a community of professionals, and supporting learning and student services.
Two principals from the University of Helsinki’s high-performing teacher training schools, which were among the first in the world to re-open in May 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, worked as academic specialists in the programme. The training was based on dialogue between colleagues, and both the academic specialists from Finland and the participants from Sharjah shared their experiences and learned from each other.
The training programmes that HY+ and SEA organised together during 2020 and 2021 have received excellent feedback. It is an encouraging outcome that Finnish education expertise can be shared
successfully worldwide, and completely online, during these exceptional times.
Article Submitted By:
University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+