Finland Teacher Tales Pt. 5: Why I was forced to freeze my butt of in a Norwegian School

I keep hearing how great the Finnish school system is.

Is it though?

“Go wide, explore and learn new things. Something will surely have a kick for you” ~ Mustafa Saifuddin

Before sinking my teeth into Finland, I thought it best to taste test a neighboring country like Norway.

PD in Norway vs PD in Australia. Why it's essential that PD for teachers is delivered by teachers (and not some guy in a suit)


I was having a chat about professional development for teachers with the affable Mathias, an English teacher from the city of Bergen in Norway. Somehow I expected PD experiences in Nordic countries to be better than what we get in Australia but the same cynicism and disappointment was evident in his comments: that most PD is irrelevant; it has little practical application for classroom teaching; and is usually delivered by a guy in a suit who hasn't been in the classroom for twenty years, if at all. Ditto and deja vu!

Only a teacher can truly 'get' a teacher - that's why I believe our professional learning should be predominantly delivered by teachers.

If the trainer is a classroom teacher they will understand the difficulties and challenges of being one. They are more likely to deliver the kind of PD that a teacher would find relevant and practical. I like PD sessions where I learn new teaching strategies and I'm given opportunities to discuss and role play these strategies with other teachers.

The link on PD is a great read (with a curious irony at the end).…/professional-development-teacher…

I recently taught demonstration lessons to Year 5 and 6 pupils at Rustad Skole in Norway and then delivered an afternoon PD session for staff in teaching Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT). And I didn't wear a suit!

What do you notice wrong with this video? Why are people standing around in the snow and why are they under-dressed? The unpredictability of teaching! There was a surprise evacuation drill right in the middle of my problem-solving lesson with Year 6 at Rustad primary school. We had to vacate the classroom immediately and take nothing with us. Here I am standing in -4 temperature in shirt and jeans. I have NEVER felt this cold. Where's a suit when you need one?!

Next stop Helsinki - keep an eye out for those tales - then home to Australia in time for Staff Development Day. I'm delivering PD at Lugarno Public School in Sydney. I'd better practise what I preach!

James Phelps

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