Teachers making the difference
Teachers are fundamental for learning and creating a beneficial, inclusive and enjoyable experience for all students. Societies demand a lot from their teachers. They need pedagogical skills, specialist and transversal subject knowledge, and to adapt and update them in response to societal challenges, such as the digital and green transitions. More recently, with the health pandemic, we witnessed how teachers were called upon to upskill and moderate the sudden shift to distance and online learning and the upheavals for learners.
Teachers also need social skills, whether engaging face to face or virtually with learners, as the societal issues of the world at large play out in the classroom microcosm. They are at the front line of integrating migrants and refugees in the classroom, often having to overcome language difficulties and identify obstacles to learning, including trauma.
Paradoxically, at a time when so much is requested from teachers, in many countries the profession suffers from diminishing status and is poorly rewarded with insufficient or irrelevant development opportunities, which also helps explain the shortage of teachers and low morale.
Teachers in vocational education and training have their own unique needs to ensure a valid learning offer for students, which could include the need to develop pedagogical skills which were not part of their initial training or to upgrade their technical knowledge to remain relevant to rapidly evolving labour markets.
This month, the ETF’s communication campaign will highlight the human experience of teachers and trainers and the ETF's assistance to develop their skills, innovate their teaching, access relevant methods and tools, deal with challenges in the classroom including preparing young people and adults to deal with new kinds of employment and less predictable careers, and manage their own teaching careers.
Live discussions with policy actors, teachers and their representatives will come together with leading experts in the field to discuss how best to support teachers, to empower them and enhance their professional development, and ways in which their contribution to education and employment policy processes can be accentuated.
ETF support for teachers
Innovating teaching and learning through research, networking and the provision of resources and tools to foster mutual learning amongst teachers are key goals of the ETF’s Creating New Learning Initiative which includes activities such as the ETF Community of Innovative Educators, a recently launched award for innovative teaching and learning, and a series of ‘teacher booster’ videos launched during the Covid-19 pandemic. Methods and tools created and/or shared include the ETF’s READY model, the DNATT tool identifying digital training needs of vocational teachers, and the EU’s Digital Competence Framework for Educators and SELFIE tool which is implemented at school level for improving digital readiness and advancing teachers’ digital competence.
Other areas of ETF engagement include support for continuous professional development of teachers and trainers through cross-country working groups on topics such as pedagogy, social inclusion and career guidance within the ENE project, for instance; ensuring quality, relevance and inclusion in teaching and learning as in the ETF’s Quality Assurance Forum; data gathering and monitoring of policy developments on teachers and the teaching process as part of the Torino Process, the Osnabruck Declaration, the KIESE reports, and more recently, and critically, the impact of the Russian aggression in Ukraine on education including teachers; and the identification and sharing throughout all our communication channels of good practice in teaching as with a recent pilot in Serbia, and celebrating teachers and their innovations in the Green Skills Award, as highlighted in ETF's most recent newsletter.
The ETF also produces in depth publications capturing and disseminating information gathered through our work (Key Competence Lighthouse, Listening to Vocational Teachers, The Power of Demonstration) including those undertaken in partnership with other partner organisations such as UNICEF (Preventing a Lockdown Generation in Europe and Central Asia) all of which inform ETF policy advice in partner countries.
Most recently, the EU launched the DARYA project in Central Asia in June 2013, which the ETF will implement. The project aims to support young people through inclusion and the development of labour market skills for which a key component is dedicated to the increased use of flexible and inclusive teaching and learning approaches, based on learning outcomes.
Developing teachers is one of the key dimensions of the EU's European Education Area to be achieved by 2025 which is working to revalorise the teaching professions and to provide all teachers, trainers and school leaders with high-quality initial education and professional development opportunities.
Supporting teachers and trainers professional development, and innovating teaching and learning are important goals in the ETF's work in the EU's neighbouring regions, within the EU's external relations, as part of our overall goal in supporting systemic reform of education and skills development.
We work in partnership with key stakeholders including teachers and trainers themselves, teachers’ associations, and trade unions to build consensus for policy reform in partnership with other organisations at national, regional, European and international levels, in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.