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Mingyuan Gu

Education is an eternal theme of human development, while teacher is not born to be a specialized profession until the modern society. With the development of new technology, teacher’s traditional roles are nowadays facing more and more challenges. Modern teachers are expected to be not only the organizers and designers of the educational process, but also mentors and partners of students in the learning process. Teacher education in China is also taking many reforms to promote their professional development, such as to increase the degree lever requirement, to established MOE’s teacher professional standards, to provide more in-service training, to encourage the research based teaching and etc. Although China has a tradition of respecting teachers and valuing education, stronger social support system is expected to be established for teacher development in the near future.

Ee-Ling Low

The Singapore education system had gone through several pivotal changes since our independence in 1956 in order to meet the societal needs of the nation and to stay relevant with times. The focus of education progressed from developing foundational knowledge of literacy and numeracy skills towards instilling values and attributes in each child. Results from the internationally benchmarked tests in 2015, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), have shown that the high performance of Singapore students is largely due to the country’s teachers and their roles in the system. However, as the world move towards the twenty-first century, the roles and responsibilities of teachers will have to change. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the changing roles of the teacher in the twenty-first century and how teacher education and professional development in Singapore has changed in tandem in order to ensure that the teacher is adequately prepared and supported to meet the challenges of twenty-first-century classrooms and schools. Innovations in policy and practice will be highlighted and the strong systemic coherence that helps ensure that research-informed policies are implemented with fidelity will be showcased.

Theo Wubbels and Jan van Tartwijk

One of the main challenges for the Dutch education system is upholding the number and quality of teachers. In this chapter, we will first describe the Dutch educational system, including the results of international comparative studies and the constitutional freedom of education as a background for the teacher’s position. Then we will move to an overview of reforms in Dutch education in the previous decades that have impacted the rhetoric on the position of teachers and describe recent policy plans for improving teaching and teacher education. We conclude with showing the ambiguities in trends and policy plans of taking teaching seriously as a profession, on the one hand, and detailed regulation of teachers’ work and teacher preparation and competence requirements on the other. We conclude that the rhetoric about teachers and teacher educators in the Netherlands is a plea for higher professionalism of both groups, but in practice, policies might also induce deprofessionalization.

The New Roles for Twenty-First-Century Teachers

Facilitator, Knowledge Broker, and Pedagogical Weaver

Wing On Lee and Jennifer Pei-Ling Tan

The notion of twenty-first-century competences began merely as a thought at the time when it was first mentioned in UNESCO’S Delors’ Report (1966). The continuous discourse, and the development of various assessment frameworks around the world seem to indicate that there is increasing buy-in of the concept, although the details and what counts as appropriate and robust measurements of this set of competences are still emerging and will take time to consolidate. Over time, several international organizations have developed various twenty-first-century educational frameworks. Broadly speaking, these frameworks have called for changes in Thinking Skills, Interpersonal Skills Information, Media and Technological Skills, and Life Skills that require flexibility, adaptivity, inter-cultural awareness and social and civic competence, in addition to the conventional emphasis on life and career skills. This chapter argues that it is pertinent for teachers and student teachers to be aware of all these shifts, firstly in the economy, and consequently requiring new sets of competences to cope with the changing economy. The changing demands or expectations on the learning outcomes have led to the new demands on education providers, i.e. school and teachers. This chapter found that the high performing education systems without exception see teachers as an important vehicle for change and they all invest immense efforts in teacher education, in order to help teachers of today become “twenty-first century.” This new learning context will require teachers to think whether they would continue to play the role of “Sage-on-the-stage,” or change their role to become “Guide-on-the-side” and “Meddler-in-the middle.” In the new learning context, good teaching is no longer determined by how well knowledge is transmitted, but how well and articulated knowledge weaving is done based on the initial knowledge found by the students in, or from outside of, the classroom.

Äli Leijen and Margus Pedaste

The average age of Estonian teachers appears to be relatively high among the OECD countries, with a rather small proportion of young teachers. Thus, the pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices of teachers in Estonia often originate from their initial teacher education in the past, when the subject-oriented approach prevailed and teachers’ autonomy was quite low. In this context, it is important to understand how initial teacher education could be updated in order for it to be more attractive and in line with recent innovative international trends in teacher education and how teachers’ autonomy and changes in their pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices could be supported. With this in mind, we discuss how different interventions at the country and university levels have provided opportunities for enhancing teachers’ professional development in Estonia. These interventions include the introduction of new comprehensive school curricula and teachers’ professional standards, increased autonomy of schools, and changed teacher education curricula at the university level that aim at attracting more students. Challenges related to the realization of these interventions include the need for improved management of resources, wider teachers’ acceptance of changes, and the need for developing a clear career ladder for teachers that supports their professional development.

The Role of Teachers in the Finnish Educational System

High Professional Autonomy and Responsibility

Hannele Niemi, Jari Lavonen, Arto Kallioniemi and Auli Toom

The aim of this chapter is to introduce the main features of the Finnish educational system and how they are related to teachers’ work. The chapter describes teachers’ professional autonomy and responsibilities in the Finnish schools. Many cornerstones, such as equity, for example, have remained principle to organizing education and schooling, but multiple societal changes and changing conceptions of teaching learning and knowledge set new demands for teachers. Currently, the Finnish educational system is in the middle of significant reforms at all levels of education that bring many demands to teachers’ pre- and in-service training. This chapter summarizes the key elements of the reforms and reflects on how teachers and schools could be supported in the midst of these reforms and how they could become learning communities both for students and teachers.

Teacher Professional Development in Malta

Liberalizing the Way We Learn

Christopher Bezzina

Like many other societies, Malta is undergoing major changes that are affecting our traditional and conservative social fabric, such as migration, multiculturalism, and the concept of family, together with other developments such as the impact of technology on our lives. This is having a direct impact on the way we currently conceptualize schools and, more so, the education we provide. As a result, schools are becoming extremely demanding and complex environments. At the same time, teachers are faced with what Helterbran describes as “prescriptive, teacher-proof curricula and instructional strategies driven by politically mandated forces” (2008, p. 124), further augmented by top-down teacher accountability that is driven by standardized tests and external international testing. These demands and pressures have raised a clarion call to review how we conceptualize the professional development of teachers. This chapter starts off by acknowledging these challenges and, after describing current provision, argues for liberalizing professional learning so that school leaders and teachers can manage and control their own learning, even if they have to function in a context of restricted autonomy. It calls for a respect for teaching as a profession that allows space and time for teachers to engage in transformative learning from within.

Teacher’s Work in Changing Educational Contexts

Balancing the Role and the Person

Auli Toom and Jukka Husu

This chapter elaborates the two central features that shape and cultivate the work of teachers. It highlights the importance of understanding teaching both as a role behavior and as an expression of an individual teacher’s abilities and personality. Teachers act within the borders of their role, and simultaneously, they need to find ways to express their subjectivity and personal qualities in their teaching. The chapter employs the concept of authenticity to reveal and elaborate the connections between role and personal demands in teaching, as authenticity always occurs within its social and institutional contexts. It presupposes that what teachers do should match not only to what they believe but should also be consistent with the institutional demands, structures, and constraints of their work. The chapter presents a model to analyze the spaces where teachers do their professional work as well as identify and understand multiple structures, tensions and resources related to it.

Teaching in the USA

Decentralization, Inequality, and Professional Autonomy

Gerald K. Letendre

The U.S. teaching force presents some unique paradoxes. American teachers are among the most highly educated in the world yet lack professional autonomy. American teachers feel that their profession has a poor reputation, but they generally love their schools. Although the U.S. has a highly decentralized educational system, teachers report less involvement in school decisions than in nations with centralized systems like Japan. And, although the U.S. produces a disproportionate share of education research, action research (defined as published studies where teachers have an active research role) remains marginalized. These paradoxes can be linked to specific organizational and cultural factors such as a strong culture of local school control, a politically divisive national culture, and the growing influence of international comparisons and bench-marking. This chapter focuses on the period from 1985 to 2015—a thirty-year period that includes such major events as the publication of A Nation at Risk, and the authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act. I discuss four long-term phenomena that have special import for teaching: (1) the evolution of a professional administrative profession; (2) state-level standard-setting for teacher education and certification; (3) an educational research sphere largely disconnected from teachers; and (4) long-term, pervasive social and educational inequality.

Hannele Niemi, Auli Toom, Arto Kallioniemi and Jari Lavonen

This chapter summarizes the main themes that emerged in the individual articles of the book. Even though the contexts of the presented countries differed, the primary questions from each were quite similar. Many reflections focused on teachers’ professional autonomy, their voice in reforms, and their pedagogical leadership in both centralized and decentralized systems. Solutions varied, depending on the system, but a common theme was that high expectations and many tensions related to teachers’ professional roles and their contributions to educational systems exist. Teachers’ work has expanded both in and outside classrooms along with the requirements to support students’ learning of twenty-first-century skills and competencies. Therefore, teachers need to learn new methods and establish new partnerships with other teachers and educational actors, including administrators. Teachers’ professional work requires autonomy and support. It also requires that their viewpoints be considered when reforms are planned so that they have opportunities to take leadership roles in and ownership of their own work. The chapter concludes by stating that teachers are part of educational ecosystems; therefore, we must identify, analyze, and manage educational systems and their subsystems and understand what comprises teachers’ roles within the systems. Teachers’ work depends on macro-level systems as well as institutional cultures; however, they are also actors who influence those systems and processes.