Teachers have less time to devote to teaching
Increased bureaucracy and dealing with disturbances take more of teachers’ time
Teachers in the Helsinki region feel that the amount of work that they have to do has increased. According to a survey conducted by Helsingin Sanomat among teachers in the region, many teachers feel that they do not have enough time to teach or to plan their lessons.
Some feel that too much responsibility has been shifted from the municipal education departments to the schools. They say that this has led to more useless red tape.
“The Education Department gives us obligations to implement all kinds of different strategies. They are probably quite useful and important, but they take consume plenty of resources”, says one Helsinki teacher.
The burden of teachers is also undoubtedly increased by the increased number of disturbances in school. Teachers feel that bringing unruly pupils under control takes up much of the time during lessons.
“The basic skills of many pupils are weak, and there are shortcomings in their ability to concentrate, which causes significant problems in organising teaching”, one teacher in Helsinki says.
Teachers nevertheless say that dealing with disturbances is difficult, because a pupil causing trouble cannot be removed from the classroom without supervision”, says one secondary school teacher from Vantaa. Parents are also more prone than before to take issue with events at school.
“Parents frequently contact us by e-mail or the Wilma internet service. We are always supposed to answer the messages immediately. It often happens that after a day at work the whole evening is spent answering the messages”, says one primary school teacher in Helsinki.
An Espoo teacher points out that the traditional image of a teacher working mainly in a classroom is antiquated.
“Nowadays teachers have plenty of work other than standing in front of a blackboard with a pointer. The issue is how things in school are organised.”
At the Poikkilaakso school in Jollas in the east of Helsinki the solution has been to have teachers work in teams. Each class has a single class teacher, working together with other teachers who jointly plan, teach, and evaluate results.
Eija Riina Moilanen, the teacher of a combined 4th and 5th grade class has as her team partner Saara Väisänen, who teaches the same grade level. At times they teach together, and at other times the classes are divided.
“There is plenty of work, but it makes it easier when it can be shared with someone else. I would not want to go back to the old style of teaching”, Moilanen says.
If she does not have the time to respond to a message from a parent, her partner will do it for her. The parents are used to this.
Once a week Moilanen and her partner have team time set aside for planning teaching for the following week.
“Sometimes the days stretch out, but it is usually because we get sidetracked to talk about other things.”
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 22.4.2012