Student teaching in Finland
I've started up with a new group of future classroom teachers. We got to talking about student teaching requirements in Finland vs. the US. The best data I could find for the US comes from this 2011 report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. This organization developed five standards for producing qualified teachers and then investigates how the US as a whole (and states specifically) are reaching these standards (or not). NCTQ hopes that student teachers will have a minimum of 10 weeks practice in schools, ideally full-time and with at least half of that time being at a single school.
This is very different from what is required here in Turku. The education students here begin their student teaching in the first semester of the program (to which they had to apply and be accepted to even start their studies): in the fall of their first year, they spend 2-3 weeks in a classroom at Turun Normaalikoulu (aka Norssi), full-time. This is their first period of student teaching.
They return to Norssi in the spring semester of their second year, this time for 7-8 weeks, full-time. This is their second period of student teaching.
Their most intensive period of student teaching takes place during the fall semester of their fourth year. They spend most of the semester at Norssi, teaching full-time - it ends up being 10-12 weeks.
Finally, during their fifth year, they can do another period of student teaching at Norssi - maybe specializing in a certain subject or trying out administration - or they can choose another school, or do alternate training at the uni. The length of this last period varies.
Added up, these particular education students at UTU get around 20 weeks of full-time student teaching, possibly more. And it starts in their very first semester.
I know the internet is always trying to figure out what it is about the Finnish school system that makes it so superior (in the opinion of many) - is it the system? the teachers? the society? the university training? - and I don't pretend to have an answer in this blog post. But I do think the intensive, long periods of student teaching might have something to do with it. When a new teacher enters the workforce, s/he not only has a master's degree, but s/he has already gained extensive experience throughout his/her five years of study and practice at university.