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By Steve Bruügger (he/him), teacher, Surrey

Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish educator who brought us the insightful and engaging book Finnish Lessons 2.0 in 2013, is back with an American teacher and writer, Timothy D. Walker, as collaborator and co-author. In this new book, In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools, they share seven key principles for building a culture of trust in schools.

At first glance, it may seem like this book is geared more toward our American counterparts. However, as Anthony Hargreaves suggests in his foreword, “Canada is a bit more American than it likes to think.” There are many implications, connections, and take-aways to be had for Canadian educators and administrators. 

The book is easy to read, with many insightful anecdotes from a variety of professional educators from Finland and elsewhere. The chapters are a good length and finish with “For Conversation and Reflection” sections for those thinking about possible book study groups or actions to implement. There are many great ideas about teaching, learning, and reflecting throughout. One example is the section where the authors discuss differences between notebooks and graphic organizers:

“Regularly employing ... graphic organizers is appealing. The well-structured handouts can make instructional time more efficient, while serving as clear evidence of student learning. But my thinking began to change soon after I moved to Finland: I started to see them more as crutches for students and teachers. … As I observed the way that my colleagues were demanding that their students take notes and diligently document their work, I started to appreciate the skill of keeping a notebook. It pushes students to take more responsibility for their work.”

In summary, I would be dishonest if I said I was completely engrossed with every single page of this book. However, I would say that for 90% of it I was, and that makes it a worthwhile educational read, in my opinion.

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