On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Research, the Institute of Baltic Studies carried out a study on “Teacher In-Service Training Needs”. The aim of the study was to obtain feedback on the system of in-service teacher education in general education schools, to identify the need for in-service teacher education and to make proposals for the development of in-service teacher education system. It was a mapping study that provided a comprehensive overview of continuing education needs of teachers, provided guidance for developing the continuing education system and provided relevant and up-to-date information on the priority areas for training in the years to come.
A number of different methods were used to collect new data: interviews were with experts in the field of in-service teacher training, those responsible for the organization of in-service training and providers of in-service training; followed by a nationwide online survey of teachers and school leaders and six focus group interviews with school leaders and teachers in Tallinn, Tartu and Narva. Participation in the online survey was very active: 200 of the school leaders and 901 of the teachers filled in the questionnaire. In the final phase of the study, a discussion workshop was conducted to present the initial findings of the study, to discuss the main findings with the participants and to formulate recommendations.
The survey confirmed that Estonian teachers show strong support for contemporary approaches to learning, but that they have not yet been sufficiently implemented in schools. The reason for this is that teachers and school leaders point to an over-emphasis on theory in the in-service training, the physical learning environment of the school and the lack of the necessary teaching resources, and heavy workloads that leave no time for learning. The study also showed that teachers prefer subject-based training to developing general pedagogical skills. At the same time, nearly one-third of school principals believe that the lack of general pedagogical competences of teachers has hindered the implementation of a modern approach to learning in the classroom. In the opinion of teachers and school leaders, good in-service training consists of both theoretical and practical parts, where one of the components is the practice of what has been learned in the classroom.
The results of the study showed that the longer the training and the more independent work and self-analysis the training requires, the less interest there is for teachers to participate. It was also revealed that the teachers had not yet sufficiently understood the changed concept of learning for themselves.