Intellectual Output 4: Subject-integrative teaching
Joint Staff Training Event 4, online on April 12-14, 2021
Subject-integrative teaching rests upon a holistic approach to teaching and learning. The goal of the subject-integrative teaching is to, among other things, be able to better engage the students in their own learning, to make the students understand the similarities and relationships between different subjects, and to allow students to develop and use their creativity.
Approaches to subject-integrative teaching vary in different national contexts as well as locally within countries to some extent. Furthermore, the use of terminology when describing subject-integrative teaching practices shows concepts such as phenomenon-based teaching, theme-based teaching, interdisciplinary, or cross-subject teaching.
Gathering around a common theoretical understanding of the key components of phenomenon-based teaching and learning, teacher educators, researchers, and teachers affiliated to DePTER, explored a variety of practices in each country connected to this approach.
Subject-integration in teacher education
Equipping future teachers with knowledge and experience of subject-integrated teaching should be done in teacher training programs. The examples from the schools in Tallinn, Uppsala, and Helsinki, offer clues as to how to develop methods in teacher education for giving student teachers opportunities to explore, learn, and practice subject-integrated teaching with children.
1. Stepping out of your comfort zone:
The challenge of stepping out of the comfort zone of your area of expertise is the same for teacher educators as for classroom teachers. Important to keep in mind is that partnerships with colleagues within as well as outside departments is beneficial. Joint efforts in the professional development for teacher educators is crucial.
2. Start small:
Implementing subject-integrated projects in teacher education requires a dedicated time for planning, performing, and assessing. Nonetheless, smaller projects should not be discarded. In fact, starting small with one or a few units of a larger course in a transdisciplinary cross departmental collaboration could start a ripple effect for more units and several other colleagues to join.
3. Real-life phenomena and open learning environments:
Subject-integrated teaching in teacher education benefits from a phenomenon-/theme-based approach. Outdoor activities, excursions, extramural pedagogies, and storytelling in teaching is helpful in facilitating subject-integrative pedagogical projects. Furthermore, connecting student-lead tasks engaging schools, working with pupils, creates authenticity to student teachers as well as teacher educators.
Examples of subject-integrative projects in schools in local schools in Sweden, Helsinki, and Estonia can be found in “Inspiration for teachers”. The examples were presented by teachers from the schools at the Joint Staff Training Event in April 2021.