International Gap Unearthed


Finland has long been on the international radar as having the most well prepared teachers and with that high international student achievement. The question of “What are they doing in Finland?” has been on the radar for educators in the United States for over the past decade.

But a recent article by the Atlantic “When Finnish Teachers Work in America’s Public Schools” brought to light some much needed qualitative research that goes beyond standardized achievement results and quantitative statistics.  This article shared an actual account of what Finnish teachers experience when they come to American schools to teach.

The Finnish teachers in this interview are close to experiencing “teacher burn-out” in the US, something they may not have experienced in their homeland.  What attributes to this feeling of burn-out is the lack of autonomy, district mandates and busy scheduling they have as US teachers.

As one teacher shared “I feel rushed, nothing gets done properly; there is very little joy, and no time for reflection or creative thinking.”

As new teachers consider job prospects a question you might ask is: “In what ways are teachers at your school site encouraged to be creative? “What do you do to promote autonomy among your teacher faculty? and “What flexibility and choice do teachers have with district mandates?” 

In my experience teachers who thrive in the classroom have principals who support, encourage and coach new teachers.   How can school leaders put the love of teaching back into the profession, the joy of learning back to the students and the time and autonomy teachers need back into the school day so everyone can thrive?