Exporting Mentored Teaching programme abroad develops collaboration between teacher training and Tampere University Teacher Training School
Teaching practise at a Teacher Training School, which is an integral part of Finnish teacher training, is exceptional method worldwide. Teacher students are taking responsibility for their teaching step by step as their skills increase. Experiences during the training are reflected, and new thing learned with experienced and trained mentoring teachers at the Teacher Training School.
The mentored teaching practise method is based on the connection between research and education, which is of great interest to the world at large. However, the dialogue between teacher training and the Teacher Training School about developing teaching and teaching practise is not known globally in the first place.
Lessons for the development of teacher training and teaching practise
The transnational education project was the first as its kind at Tampere University. In a project that began in the autumn of 2021, 70 teachers from the Faculty of Education and Teacher Training School at Universidade Feevale in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, were introduced to the themes of mentored teaching practise. Universidade Feevale and the transnational education experts from Tampere University developed the idea and content of the training for a few years.
“Universidade Feevale aimed to learn how to develop the teacher training and the teaching practise at its own organisation from a Finnish perspective. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme was organised online. The result was a unique set of lectures, keynotes, and learning tasks focused on supporting the mentoring skills of the participants and professional growth as a teacher,” says Niina Nyyssölä, Key Account Manager, Education and Learning, from Tampere University.
Student-centred mentoring methods were used more due to the programme
The project ended in June 2023, when Nyyssölä, together with Minna Mäkihonko, University Lecturer and academic director of the Mentored Teacher Education programme, and Minna van Nunen, Lecturer at Tampere University’s Teacher Training School, visited the Universidade Feevale. During the trip, they were introduced to pilot projects applying the lessons learned during the programme to the local context.
Mäkihonko says that the key result has been a change in the teaching practise methods:
“The teachers at Universidade Feevale participating in the programme increased the use of the student-centred mentoring methods. The mentoring discussions changed from an evaluative and supervisor-oriented activity towards an interactive dialogue.
According to van Nunen, in addition to developing student-centred mentoring skills, encouraging dialogue was one of the main objectives of the programme:
“In the mentoring of a teacher student, understanding the importance of dialogue is the starting point. Students are encouraged to use their own strengths and personalities in teaching, rather than just being given a ready-made lesson to implement. Mentored teaching practise will also educate future colleagues. The focus in teaching practise is not only on taking lessons, but also on integrating the student into all aspects of school life,” she emphasises.
Van Nunen says the on-site encounters in Novo Hamburgo with teachers in Feevale were very valuable:
“In connection with the assessment of teachers’ project works, there was an opportunity to discuss, ask important questions and develop one’s expertise by getting to know the everyday life and work of the school there.
I feel that international cooperation broadens and with it is able to appreciate the numerous positive aspects of one’s own work. For me, with the project, Finnish teaching training once again appeared to be a great thing. In here, teacher students are provided with versatile resources for the future.
Also collaboration between Tampere University Teacher Training School and the Faculty of Education and Culture has deepened and developed in a new way during the MTE programme,” she points out.
“Collaboration is invaluable in ensuring quality teaching for teacher students and supporting professional growth. We have also received positive feedback from the Universidade Feevale and aim to continue cooperation with them,” Mäkihonko mentions.
“A large number of teachers from Tampere University Teacher Training School participated in the implementation of the MTE programme. You always learn a lot about your colleagues and their strengths during projects. It also reminds of how rewarding cooperation between different actors within the whole faculty is at its best,” van Nunen points out.
The project ended in June with a visit to Brazil, where a celebration was organised to give certificates to those completing the programme. Mäkihonko and van Nunen were celebration keynote speakers at a workshop on education and happiness.
Transnational education experts will be able to assess the results of the pilot project in more detail in the coming autumn. However, it is certain that the work will continue. A programme has already been developed at Tampere University that is suitable not only for Latin America but also for other regions.