Teachers, Teacher Education, and Professional Development
Teacher Education Specific to Mathematics and Science
All primary and secondary teachers are required to complete a master’s degree.19 Universities offer study programs divided into three stages: the first stage typically lasts three years and results in a bachelor’s degree; the second stage typically lasts two years and results in a master’s degree; and the third stage lasts three to four years and results in a doctoral degree.
Teacher education for Stage 1 of primary schools (Grades 1 to 4) is carried out at faculties of pedagogy (university departments of education) in the preprimary and primary education field under the program Teaching for Primary Education. The particular subjects taught vary among academic disciplines, but students acquire the necessary competence for teaching all subjects in the first stage of primary school.
Teacher education for Stage 2 (Grades 5 to 9) of primary schools and secondary schools is carried out at university faculties for a particular subject within the field Teaching of Academic Subjects. Students typically are qualified to teach two subjects in various combinations (e.g., mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, etc.).
Pedagogical practice is an integral component of teacher preparation. It offers students an opportunity to test their theoretical knowledge in real instruction processes and implement basic practical competencies required for teaching. Pedagogical practice typically is completed in three phases. During the bachelor’s degree program, students must complete an “inspectional practice” phase (observing the learning process in an active classroom), followed by an “assistant practice” phase (beginning to teach lessons under the supervision of an experienced teacher). During the master’s degree program, students complete an additional, final phase of “coherent teaching practice” in which they become members of teaching staff for a longer period of time. In this phase, students work under the guidance of an experienced teacher, but their work is more independent than during the assistant practice phase.
Requirements for Ongoing Professional Development
An act passed in 2009 by the National Council regarding pedagogical staff and professional employees established rules for teacher professional development.20 The act divides teachers into four main categories: novice teachers, independent teachers, teachers with first authentication, and teachers with second authentication. Over the course of their professional career, teachers are encouraged to progress through these levels. There are several ways teachers can earn the credits necessary to progress to a higher level: attending certified professional development courses; authoring approved or recommended textbooks or other study materials; and engaging in other creative activities, such as conducting research in education.
There are many educational institutions accredited by law to provide teacher professional development programs; through these programs teachers may complete, refresh, extend, and expand their qualifications. These institutions include universities, methodology and pedagogy centers, and corporate and personal entities whose activities lie within the field of education. Teachers receive credits for participating in accredited educational programs, and based on the number of approved credits, they may receive a salary increase of up to 12 percent.21