“Hei Hei Suomi!”OR,My time in the “Best Country in the World” Sarah Applegate Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Grant- Finland January-May 2011
When I started… • Pretty uninformed…ummm…Russia? • Curious…seeking the “magic lesson/strategy/idea/approach to “fix” our system • Full of assumptions…what I know to be true and work in the US must be absolutely different in Finland…right?
What I found… • Finland IS right next to Russia! • Finland is an amazing country with a strong and supported belief in taking care of citizens • Things are different, definitely…but there is a lot for us to learn
My research • How do schools in Finland teach information literacy skills and develop library users without always having a school library? • Interviews with students, teachers, administrators, librarians • Visits around the country • Observations, interviews, reflection… observations, interviews, reflection
What I saw A wide range of school libraries with limited information literacy instruction and few school librarians
What I saw Robust and well-funded public libraries • Trainings • Guitars • Sewing Machines • Walking Sticks • One on One Librarian time
What I saw in (public) libraries • Libraries were more than just books (Library 10) • Libraries are used by everyone- and are a focus for communities (Oulu) • Libraries are expected to provide a wide range of resources – both people and stuff • National goal: everyone living within 3K of a library
What I saw in school libraries • A wide variety of school libraries- far different than the equity in the national curriculum • SYK vs. Mikkeli; Vocational vs. Lukio • Little to no technology • Wide range- some archives, some active
Teachers say National Core Curriculum says that all teachers much teach technology and research skills… Many teachers said they don’t have the time or training to do it.
Students Say • They us the public library because it is so close to where they live. • They would like a school library that provides technology tools, and the training to use them more effectively. • They use their school libraries when they are staffed with school librarians.
What I discovered- far beyond my initial interests • Relaxed yet very focused schools • A very different perspective toward time • A focus on the whole child vs. separation of grades, discipline areas, etc • Confident, competent teachers involved with curriculum development • Principals who teach! • Impact of language learning • Broad scope of support (from liberal to conservative)
What surprised me… • Textbooks and teacher’s involvement • Lack of school libraries • Relaxed atmosphere • “thin-ness” of the standards • Willingness to hear critique at national level • Principals teaching • The intensive and supportive teacher training process
Translation- from Finnish to “American” • Teacher training- how can we translate the highly supported, collaborative teacher training into our context? • Looping- can we become “teachers” rather than grade level specialists? • Outside time/break time- how can we provide students time to rest and recover so that they can learn?
Teaching life Working environment better in Finland Teacher training is excellent Vocational/Lukio options Working life and status of teachers is enviable
Increasing literacy- learning from Finland • Reading more- including newspapers and magazines – family newspaper tradition • Integrate public libraries and school libraries- services and space • Core reading- create similar “reading books” in elementary grades to track student’s reading- “Reading Diploma” • Culture of reading and pride in language
My “translation” Kids need break times- CORE/Flex at RRHSbenefits Interest and hope in collaborating with public library- databases, cards “Whole Child Coaching”- teachers can help students learn a lot beyond academic skills