“The Teachers’ Academy is not an elite club, but a group of distinguished experts and an empowering network.” - rector Jukka Kola. The Teachers’ Academy rewards both outstanding teachers and the communities that support their work. The selected teachers are recognised as permanent members of the Academy and receive a personal two-year grant, in addition to which the teacher’s home unit (e.g., division or discipline) receives a grant for development efforts for the same time period. The funding must be used for the professional development and for the different development projects.
Teachers deserve to be recognised
MIT professor and Nobel laureate Bengt Holmström spoke at the annual celebration of the University on 24th March 2017, and was invited to become the first honorary member of the Teachers’ Academy.
Holmström was singled out for this recognition as his example has had a significant impact on the esteem of university teaching, and he has highlighted the significance of the personal engagement of professors in teaching and supervision. Bengt Holmström is a popular lecturer and teacher, known for considering the students’ wishes and needs in his teaching and for propelling his teaching through discussion and student questions. Holmström has repeatedly emphasised that investments in the development of teaching and learning are equally important as those in research. In addition, Holmström has consistently been involved in cooperation with the University of Helsinki. As recognition for his merits in teaching, Holmström was offered the golden acorn of the Teachers’ Academy and a diploma. The honorary membership was granted by Rector Jukka Kola.
Fellows of the Teachers’ Academy are pioneers in the scholarship of teaching. The Academy fellows form a multidisciplinary network that shares its expertise and actively develops learning and teaching at the University. Specialists in university pedagogy support the fellows of the Teachers’ Academy and serve as advisors for the Academy.
The research and teaching staff of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning serve as permanent expert members of the Teachers’ Academy. They support and coordinate the discipline-specific and interdisciplinary efforts to develop and investigate teaching; participate in organising events, visits and publications related to the development of University teaching together with the Teachers’ Academy; and serve as pedagogical experts on the Academy’s assessment panels.
Teachers must apply for the Academy fellowship independently. The application documents include a teaching portfolio, a short CV as well as letters of recommendation from students and colleagues. In the teaching portfolios, the applicants must present, describe and analyse their teaching innovations and related competence with respect to the Teachers’ Academy criteria.
The applications are evaluated by multidisciplinary peer review panels. The Rector makes the final decision on the fellows selected to the Teachers’ Academy. Each applicant gets a brief written assessment about his/her strengths and development challenges.
The Teachers’ Academy criteria mainly follow the areas of assessment outlined in the University Regulations and different faculties’ criteria for the assessment of teaching (teaching experience, pedagogical courses, ability to produce learning material, development of teaching and other investments related to teaching). The Academy criteria clarify the various constituents of teaching qualifications and highlight the different ways of exhibiting expertise of teaching and scholarship of teaching. These criteria do not aim to establish just one comprehensive model for being or becoming a good teacher. Rather, expertise in teaching is examined and evaluated as a range of various profiles. Furthermore, the examples included in the criteria are not comprehensive examples of teaching expertise.