One of the unique aspects of teacher preparation in Finland is the use of teacher training schools. The University of Helsinki works in cooperation with two local public schools, Viikin normaalikoulun and Helsingin normaalilyseo, where students do their practice teaching. I previously tried to schedule a visit to Viiki using a teacher contact provided by my advisor. After getting in touch with the teacher, I was contacted by a school administrator who said I’d have to pay 350 € per day to observe classes! I understand that they must get swamped with requests for visits. But I’m placed at the University of Helsinki for my grant, and it’s a school where students from the university are trained, so it was a bit surprising to be asked to pay for access. The challenge of arranging school visits is a common topic that comes up when Fulbright teachers get together.
I am taking a course on the Finnish educational system, and the professor arranged for those of us in the class to visit schools in small groups. Helsingin normaalilyseo was one of the options, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go there without having to do the legwork (or pay). We were only able to observe one class (English), but we did have some time to ask questions about how teachers are trained.