Äli Leijen is a professor of teacher education and head of the Institute of Education at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Her academic background is in educational sciences. Her current work mostly focuses on teacher education, including research themes such as students’ reflection in different educational settings, teachers’ professional development, the effectiveness of doctoral studies in education and educational technology in supporting learning and teaching. She has coordinated and participated in several national and international research and developmental projects. She is a member of Executive Committee of EARLI and founding member of Estonian Young Academy of Sciences. For further information, please see: http://goo.gl/sXovVU
Opportunities for teacher professional development in Estonia: supporting teacher autonomy and collaboration with colleagues
The average age of Estonian teachers is 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 originate partly from their initial teacher education in the past, when the subject-oriented approach prevailed and teachers’ autonomy received less attention. In this context, it is important to understand how teacher education could be updated for it to be i) more attractive for potential teacher candidates and ii) better aligned with recent international research and development trends. Regarding the latter, some of the most important questions include how teachers’ autonomy, collaboration and changes in their pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices could be supported. With this in mind, this presentation will address how different interventions at the country and university level have provided opportunities for enhancing teachers’ professional development in Estonia and which areas need further attention and facilitation.