The Teachers' Academy gives new inspiration for work

Membership in the Teachers’ Academy has provided University Lecturer Terhi Karaharju-Suvanto with fresh perspectives and insights. For Professor Johan Bärlund, the most important benefit has been collegiality. The Teachers’ Academy currently invites applications for fellowships.

University Lecturer Terhi Karaharju-Suvanto has been a member of the Teachers’ Academy since its establishment. She feels she has gained a lot from her membership.

”Being a member of the Teachers’ Academy gives me a mandate to advocate teaching. I have made new friendships and received peer support for teaching – and quite surprisingly, for research too. The other members look at things from a fresh angle, which leads to new insights. The Teachers’ Academy has given me new inspiration and energy for my work!”

Professor Johan Bärlund interpreted his appointment as a member to be a clear sign that his efforts of many years in the development of teaching were not in vain. He too has been in the Academy since its establishment.

Membership guarantees good teachers a staple of quality. However, the most important aspect of membership has been the collegial ambience of the Teachers’ Academy. Getting to know accomplished teachers from other University units in various events and through various discussions has been very rewarding.”

A focus on teaching

Terhi Karaharju-Suvanto thinks that the funding for the development of teaching that comes along with membership is important.

“The focus is on teaching, which underlines its importance. The funding can be used fairly freely for the development of teaching in the member’s home unit. We have been able to do things that would have been impossible without the grant.”

In Karaharju-Suvanto’s home unit, the Degree Programme in Dentistry, the money was used to purchase video equipment to support teaching. In addition, the programme held planning meetings outside the unit premises.

“We gained new perspectives for teaching, and solidarity was boosted among the teaching staff,” says Karaharju-Suvanto happily.

Inspired by his fellowship, in February 2014 Johan Bärlund organised a real estate transactions course founded on the problem-based-learning methodology developed by what was then the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences. The course participants consisted of more than 300 students from the Faculty of Law. Despite their great number, the students worked in small groups of seven to nine participants at the Minerva Plaza learning environment.

The groups went through the cases related to the course theme twice: in the first session, they discussed the issues to be learned from the case. Then the students studied the relevant law independently. In the next session, the small groups reviewed the issues they had learned,” explains Bärlund.

The jurisprudence of real estate business was well covered with the help of three extensive model cases. The rent for Minerva Plaza was paid from the unit-specific Teachers’ Academy grant.

Teachers appointed to the Academy receive a separate grant for their personal professional development. Terhi Karaharju-Suvanto used most of her own grant by participating in teaching-related training, which gave her entirely new ideas, especially with respect to assessment.

Who can be a member?

Karaharju-Suvanto emphasises that applicants to the Teachers’ Academy must be genuinely interested in teaching.

If teaching and the development of teaching are your passion and you wish to share your expertise with others, you should apply to the Teachers’ Academy,” encourages Karaharju-Suvanto.

Johan Bärlund finds that completing the application alone promoted his understanding of his identity as a teacher, in other words, a teacher’s self-reflection benefits teaching also on a general level.

You cannot necessarily anticipate what kind of merits the other applicants have. The application, even when it does not lead to an appointment, can yield important information about the level of your merits,” estimates Bärlund.

Applications invited for fellowships in the Teachers’ Academy

Applications are currently invited for fellowships in the Teachers’ Academy. The application period closes on 3 October 2018. The next round of applications will be in autumn 2020.

Appointment as a fellow to the Teachers’ Academy betokens significant recognition for teaching merits and expertise in the scholarship of teaching. The appointees will be recognised as permanent members of the Academy and receive a grant of € 20,000. In addition, the appointee’s home unit is granted separate funding in the amount of € 30,000. Both of the above grants are awarded for three years.