From the Finnish View: Reviewing Teachers as Leaders in Finland article PART 1

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The first reading I tackled for week one was also the shortest. Written by Sahlberg in 2013 “Teachers as Leaders in Finland” for Educational Leadership Magazine,  is an article discussing the idea of teachers are leaders in Finland’s schools and the lessons that can be learned from the Finnish experience.

Since surprising the world (themselves included) with top marks on the first PISA test, Finland has become synonymous with excellent teaching and teacher training, teacher autonomy, and very little standardized testing. This near romanticized teacher’s paradise has prompted many educators and governments to travel to the Nordic country to learn the secrets of their success.

Sahlberg asserts that well-educated teachers benefit the entire education system. For the past 30 to 40 years, Finland worked to reshape its educational system with this in mind. The teaching profession became as sought after as doctors and lawyers. It became a reputable profession where university programs can pick from the top 10% of graduates. And those professionals can expect:

Collaboration > Isolation


Autonomy > Top-down Authority


Professional Responsibility > Bureaucratic Accountability


Professional Practice > Prescribed Procedures

This allows Finnish teachers to exercise, expand, and explore what they learned during their education and training and they won’t be alone or without support. They can put their students’ educational needs first without worrying about next round of test scores. They can implement solutions and practices outside of prescribed procedures they had no input in creating or that don’t benefit their students. These practices and ideas have helped to create a world-class education with a high professional satisfaction. A satisfaction grounded in what Sahlberg calls the ethos of a teacher’s work; where Finnish teachers “[perceive] themselves as professionals with obligation and responsibility to implement, and evaluate the outcomes of their work.”

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