Making teachers strong for tomorrow
Teachers play a central role in our knowledge society. This was clearly demonstrated once again during the Corona pandemic. Whether and how well children and young people were taught during the lockdown also depended on the professional, digital and personal skills of the teachers. But teachers must not only be able to handle digital tools and skilfully use them didactically. They should also educate, advise and constantly develop the schools.
Modern teacher education needs sensitivity
Modern teacher education must qualify both prospective and active teachers for these tasks. DLR Projektträger is making an important contribution to ensuring quality in teacher education by implementing the Federal-Länder programme „Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung". The particular challenge here is that education is a State Government matter. It therefore takes a great deal of know-how and intuition to establish innovations in this multi-player system – skills that DLR Projektträger brings to the table thanks to its many years of experience.
Since 2015, DLR Projektträger has been responsible for implementing the Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung. Britta Contzen and Dr Alexander Höse see the successes of the funding measure.
Why does Germany need Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung?
Dr. Alexander Höse: We all know how important and formative school is for young people and what a big role teachers play in this. Teacher training in Germany is basically of high quality, but it is also very fragmented. There are several phases, from studies to preparatory service to in-service and further training. The teacher training programme, the so-called first phase, is highly diversified and poses a great challenge for students in terms of content and organisation. In addition, at universities, the teaching profession often does not enjoy the status it deserves. That is why structural and content-related improvements are needed to enable good teacher training "from a single source".
What has been achieved in about eight years of structural support?
Britta Contzen: Teacher education works and has already given education and training of teachers a powerful boost in terms of quality development. We experience this again and again in direct exchange with the funded projects, but it is also confirmed by the external programme evaluation based on surveys and interviews. Teacher education has become more visible at universities, is taken seriously and in some cases is taking on the role of an innovation driver, for example in the area of digital teaching.
What role did DLR Projektträger play in this?
Dr. Alexander Höse: There is also a sensitive network of people and departments at the universities themselves that we are really familiar with and can deal with well. The result is very constructive and trusting cooperation with the funding recipients and the trust of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which was already reflected in the funding of the programme a few years ago. DLR Projektträger has many years of experience in the complex structure of responsibilities for teacher training shared by the Federal Government and the states.
What is your assessment of which topics will play a role in teacher education in the future?
Britta Contzen: There is a lot of dynamism in the whole field of teacher education, a lot of rethinking has to take place. However, I see three focal points. Firstly, digitisation – the topic is only now really taking off. Our notions of teaching will change, and all teachers must be prepared for this. Secondly, there is a shortage of teachers, and political pressure is considerable. It will be a matter of inspiring more school-leavers to take up this exciting profession, but also of attracting and qualifying lateral entrants. And finally, active teachers must constantly renew and refresh their knowledge and skills to keep up with these rapid changes – but also to stay healthy and motivated. The in-service and further training of teachers, its structures and contents, will be an important topic area for teacher education.
Britta Contzen is a research officer in the Department of Higher Education Structures, Science and Higher Education Research. As a former teacher, she particularly enjoys dealing with the challenges of teacher education and is group coordinator of the programme.
Dr Alexander Höse heads the Department of Higher Education Structures/Science and Higher Education Research, which is also in charge of the Quality Initiative Teacher Education. As a trained political scientist, he has a particular focus on the political dynamics and interests in education and science policy.
Was ist die Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung?
Wie wichtig es ist, Lehrkräfte auf diese neuen, gesellschaftlich hoch relevanten Herausforderungen vorzubereiten, haben Bund und Länder bereits 2015 erkannt und die „Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung“ (QLB) geschaffen. Das Programm zielt darauf ab, vor allem das Lehramtsstudium, aber auch den Vorbereitungsdienst und die Fortbildungsangebote für Lehrkräfte nachhaltig zu verbessern. Und das mit großem Erfolg: Seit Beginn werden 91 Einzel- und Verbundprojekte an 72 Hochschulen in ganz Deutschland gefördert. Damit sind mehr als die Hälfte der lehrkräftebildenden Hochschulen hierzulande an der QLB beteiligt. Dafür stellt der Bund bis Ende 2023 rund 500 Millionen Euro bereit. Der DLR Projektträger fungiert dabei als Schnittstelle zwischen dem auftraggebenden Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) und den Zuwendungsempfängern, berät zum Projektmanagement und vernetzt die Projekte untereinander. Er leistet damit seit Beginn des Programms einen wichtigen Beitrag und gestaltet so die Schule der Zukunft mit.
Current Challenges in Teacher Education
The programme has identified several issues that education policy and research must address in order to make teachers and schools fit for the future – some of them structural challenges, others cross-cutting issues:
The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany predicts an increasing demand for teachers in the coming years. Particularly in the case of teaching staff at vocational schools, the so-called vocational teaching profession, the demand clearly exceeds the number of graduates. In addition, a large proportion of students in this field already look back on years of professional experience and family phases; special guidance and flexible study models are required here. Numerous projects of the Quality Offensive Teacher Education are therefore working on innovative solutions to
- raise the profile of teacher training programmes, e.g. among engineers,
- recruit suitable teachers,
- provide students with targeted support so that as few as possible drop out of their studies, and
- offer lateral entrants and career changers optimal training.
DLR Projektträger initiated a programme workshop to network the projects with a focus on the "vocational teaching profession", in which the participating projects not only exchanged their scientific and practical approaches, but also gave typical students themselves a chance to speak and discuss approaches to solutions. The projects then formed an active network for further collaboration.
School must become more digital – something that has often been demanded has become inevitable at the latest with the Corona pandemic. However, the form and quality of digital education depends not only on the technical equipment of the school, the children and young people, but also on which digital media have been tested and how they can be meaningfully integrated into lessons. Challenges for teacher education are, among others
- the development of didactically and technically meaningful digital teaching concepts for as many subject areas as possible,
- testing different digitisation strategies for student teachers, young teachers in the preparatory service and active teachers in schools, and
- researching new models for digitally supported teaching.
DLR Projektträger supports over 50 projects in this field. In order to provide them with practical knowledge, it has published the specialist brochure "Digitalisation in Teacher Education after the Digital Turn" on behalf of the BMBF, in which the various challenges of media didactics, media education and digitally supported teaching are explained using a variety of examples. In addition, the project portrait, a cinematic documentation of outstanding project examples, was dedicated to "Digitalisation in Teacher Education" in 2021 (see info box). In the winter semester of 2022/23, DLR Projektträger will also offer young researchers the opportunity to exchange ideas and network in this research field with the online workshop series "Digitisation and...". This offers a unique glimpse "beyond the end of one's nose", which the doctoral students are already enthusiastically embracing.
Germany's diversity is also reflected in the heterogeneous composition of the student body. Dealing with heterogeneity and inclusion in schools requires diagnostic as well as support and counselling skills, which the prospective teachers must first acquire.
All pupils benefit from a diversity-sensitive and inclusive design of school and teaching. Schools can thus make an indispensable contribution on the way to a discrimination-free and open society. Before this can happen, however, there is the challenge of daring to change perspectives and to question subjective expectations of normality. Many projects in the "Quality Offensive Teacher Education" have devoted a focus to this task, which involves
- taking mental and health restrictions into account, e.g. in physical education,
- addressing different world views and discussion of democratic values, not only in the subjects of ethics, religion or history,
- an appreciative approach to the pupils' languages of origin
- and many other aspects of diversity in school and society.
DLR Projektträger already held a programme workshop in 2018 to network projects in this field. The specialist brochure "Perspectives for successful inclusion" bundled the expertise of the projects and formed the starting point for the "Inclusion Network" within the "Quality Offensive Teacher Education". Within the framework of the various event formats of the programme, DLR Projektträger regularly offers the participants space for exchange.
Practical school phases are an integral part of the teacher training programme. They enable students to prepare for teaching, to test theoretical knowledge in practice and to deal professionally with the "shock of practice". To this end, the funded higher education institutions establish cooperation networks with internship schools and practical school teacher training. They are developing mentoring and peer feedback approaches and creating further training opportunities for mentors, i.e. for the teachers who supervise the students in the schools.
At the same time, the solid academic education of prospective teachers is an indispensable quality feature of German teacher education. It requires the close interlocking of the subject-specific, subject-didactic and educational science components of study. Ensuring this coherence is a challenge in the academic world and the focus of numerous projects. These
- establish cross-structures between the faculties of the universities, e.g. through "Schools of Education",
- train mentors who dovetail the three phases of teacher training, and
- establish digital media for school and classroom development and
- reform the teacher training curricula of universities and colleges step by step.
DLR Projektträger addresses these structural challenges at all major events of the programme and repeatedly offers the projects the opportunity to exchange ideas and network. It also repeatedly makes the development of cross-phase solutions the topic of expert forums and bar camps organised by the QLB team as part of network meetings and programme congresses.
The „Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung“ " is having a long-term impact on teacher education in Germany!
Funding only fully achieves its goals if it has a lasting effect. In teacher education, this is the case when topics are anchored in the university curricula or further training for mentors is made permanent. A stocktaking will take place, for example, at the Network Conference 2022 under the title "Shaping Future Perspectives through Transfer and Sustainability". On the 19th and 20th October, the projects will come together in Leipzig to discuss approaches and desiderata with representatives of the Länder and various interest groups in teacher education. DLR Projektträger has designed a programme that provides space for both the scientific and the practical interests of the participants and will accompany exchange on site.
Films on selected topics in teacher education
Each year, DLR Projektträger designs and produces a film on selected topics in teacher education – for example, "Digitalisation" (2021).
Whether VR glasses or digital tools -– the learning and teaching formats in teacher education are adapting more and more to the increasingly digital world of students. This is shown by the projects of the "Quality Offensive Teacher Education" (QLB) in Dresden, Kaiserlautern and Passau.