The growing expectations of society continue to set new challenges for education. The role of a teacher is no longer confined to teaching classes and heads of school are no longer just executives. Both professions carry a number of roles and functions, which require leadership competence, preparedness and capabilities for teamwork, interdisciplinary skills, supervisory expertise, and the skill of using information and communications means and educational technologies.
More than ever, the emphasis has shifted toward competence evaluation when assessing and developing the professional performance of teachers and heads of school, thereby supporting the comprehensive development of students. It is worthwhile to bear in mind, however, that each staff member is personally responsible for self-development and for maintaining their qualifications at least at the level of competence required for performing their professional duties. Teachers and heads of school alike are active learners who plan, organise and evaluate their learning processes and professional development.
Continuing training is a systematic activity aimed at supporting the development of students through professional self- development of teachers and heads of school. Continuing training means both professional self-improvement, or learning in general, which encompasses the acquiring and improving of professional and/or subject-specific knowledge and skills as well as individual self-improvement through studying materials, participating in courses, studying with the help of an instructor, learning under the supervision of others, study trips, peer counselling, including sharing best practices, etc.
Continuous training is organised based on the concept of continuous education of teachers and heads of school, adopted at the end of 2013 by the Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with its partners.
The induction year programme is designed for novice teachers of pre-school child care institutions, special education teachers, speech therapists, teachers of general education schools and vocational educational institutions as well as for their more experienced colleagues. This is a national initiative, which is based on the framework requirements set out in the National Teacher Training Development Plan. Training is financed by the Ministry of Education and Research. The training is provided by the University of Tartu and the Tallinn University.
The role of university centres in supporting professional development:
- Support programme for junior teachers. Training sessions/seminars for novice teachers are held during school holidays. The participants analyse their experiences gained during the first working year(s), discuss and analyse the problems they encountered and find solutions together or with the help of experts, if necessary.
- Mentor training. The course is designed to clarify some aspects relating to the implementation of the induction year programme and to support the development of supervising skills.
- Information exchange for mentors and junior teachers. Electronic lists of junior teachers and mentors facilitate the exchange of information and offer an opportunity to find solutions to the issues related to the implementation of the induction year programme.
- Seminars are organised 2 to 3 times a year for mentors who have received mentor training, management training or intern supervision training. Mentors are given an overview of the activities taking place in the given year, provided counselling and engaged in discussions about future activities.
- Supervision of teachers who have participated in the induction year programme. Becoming a teacher is a lengthy process and therefore, junior teachers who have participated in the programme are given an opportunity to continue training in supervision groups.
When developing teacher training in Estonia, it was agreed that initial, induction and continuing training programmes are based on professional standards.
Continuing teacher training
The countinuous traning programmes for teachers are mainly funded from European Social Fund. The programmes are implemented by:
- Foundation Archimedes – programme Eduko
- Foundation Innove - programmes “Raising the Qualifications of General Education Teachers” and “Substantive development of vocational education”