We demand a lot from our teachers. We expect them to have a deep and broad understanding of what they teach and whom they teach, because what teachers know and care about makes such a difference to student learning. That entails professional knowledge (e.g. knowledge about a discipline, knowledge about the curriculum of that discipline, and knowledge about how students learn in that discipline), and knowledge about professional practice so they can create the kind of learning environment that leads to good learning outcomes. It also involves enquiry and research skills that allow them to be lifelong learners and grow in their profession. Students are unlikely to become lifelong learners if they don’t see their teachers as lifelong learners.

But we expect much more from our teachers than what appears in their job description. We also expect them to be passionate, compassionate and thoughtful; to encourage students’ engagement and responsibility; to respond to students from different backgrounds with different needs, and to promote tolerance and social cohesion; to provide continual assessments of students and feedback; to ensure that students feel valued and included; and to encourage collaborative learning. And we expect teachers themselves to collaborate and work in teams, and with other schools and parents, to set common goals, and plan and monitor the attainment of those goals.

There are aspects that make the job of teachers much more challenging and different from that of other professionals. Teachers need to be experts at multitasking as they respond to many different learner needs all at the same time. They also do their job in a classroom dynamic that is always unpredictable and that leaves teachers no second to think about how to react. Whatever a teacher does, even with just a single student, will be witnessed by all classmates and can frame the way in which the teacher is perceived in the school from that day forward.

But how to educate people to live up to these demands? In 2016-18 the OECD carried out an initial teacher preparation (ITP) study in Australia, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States and Wales (United Kingdom). It aimed to identify and explore common challenges, strengths and innovations in ITP, and set out future directions to support countries in improving their ITP systems. Its findings are compiled in the TeacherReady! platform – an infographic-style website that contains all the resources collected and produced in the study in a structured, easily accessible and searchable form for various stakeholders (policy makers, teacher educators, teachers, ITP leaders) and country contexts.

Flying Start – Improving Initial Teacher Preparation Systems is the companion of the TeacherReady! platform more targeted to policy makers and researchers. This report discusses the relevance of studying ITP and explores concepts and features of ITP systems that are key for policy design. It lays out some common challenges related to ITP policies identified in the course of the study as well as the underlying evidence and data, and brings together examples and promising strategies from diverse parts of the world that have the potential to address these challenges at each level of the system. Lastly, it brings together these findings and draws conclusions with regard to the effective governance of ITP as well as future directions for policy and research.

In doing so, Flying Start – Improving Initial Teacher Preparation Systems and the TeacherReady! platform seek to foster a dialogue among the various ITP stakeholders on how to enhance each building block of the ITP ecosystem as well as interconnections between different parts of the system to improve its coherence and the learning experience of future generations of teachers to equip them for the demands of contemporary teaching.


Andreas Schleicher

Director for Education and Skills

Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General

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