OECD recently published the report on TALIS 2013 (Teaching and Learning International Survey). The survey interviewed lower secondary teachers from all over the world. The press release of the survey is titled: Teachers love their job but feel undervalued, unsupported and unrecognised, says OECD.
This is quite sad and if things continue as is, they are not going to love what they do for much longer. We should give them all the support we can and recognize the importance of their job. They are educating our children, what could be more important! Or, as my colleague put it, teacher is the killer app in education.
Luckily in Finland the situation is not as bad as in some other countries. 57% of Finnish teachers feel their profession is valued, whereas in Denmark the corresponding percentage is 18% and in Estonia only 14%.
This is, however, not good enough. The percentage should be closer to one hundred. What could we do to increase it? One immediate thing to address is digitalization and the challenges it brings to teaching. Teachers used to master the learning materials, namely textbooks and workbooks. Now they are bombarded with tablets, learning environments, BYOD policies, educational games, etc.
It is only natural that digesting new things takes time. We must be there for the teachers as they adopt these new innovations, guiding and mentoring as they proceed. Running a classroom is challenging enough as such, we shouldn’t make it any harder with poor edtech. Each technological innovation we introduce in the classroom should make the lives of teachers and students easier, not vice versa.
Human face and connections with real people is important even (and especially!) in a rapidly digitalizing world. Let’s not forget about the teachers, but help them get started with these shiny new innovations. It will pay off in the end.