Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teacher Training at the University

June 14, 2010

Workshop: New Trends in Teacher Training: Personality Development
Regina Keller and Dr. Philipp Thomas

According to Dr. Thomas, Baden-Wurttemberg has been conservative as far as treating personality development of teachers as a serious topic for pedagogical study. This is problematic as demonstrated by research results that reveal that those who choose teaching are more prone to burn out than those who choose other professions.

What they are trying to do at TU is to give students internships earlier so that they can determine whether or not teaching is really “for them”. The benefit is that teachers will reflect on what they are doing self-consciously and gain competencies that purely theoretical study can’t give them. For instance, very early on in their course of study, students are asked whether or not they have voluntarily worked with children before and, if not, they are encouraged to get some experience, for instance by tutoring children. If you discover that you do not like kids, then teaching is probably not for you. Therefore, the Tubingen is including in its Teaching degree program two courses geared towards developing what they call professional competencies.

Prior to studies, students will test for teacher’s competencies on line and carry out a two week orientation practicum which will answer the question “What can I expect as a teacher”? Then, during basic studies, there is a first module of professional competence which concentrates on “Mental concepts” which answers the question “what do I need to know about the teaching professional outcomes”? It focuses on the role of the teacher. This could be done more as a practicum, but the University of Tubingen is jealous about its place as a research institution, and views practical pedagogical classes as something best kept at the Padagogische Hochschule level which is the more appropriate area for vocational education for teachers of Real and Hauptschuhe. Therefore, this course is taught as a lecture course. In the fifth semester the students have their practical semester in the classroom. Then, during the main course of study, teachers attend a second module which focuses on role play and practice at dealing with difficult situations in the classroom. Such issues as body language, parent communication, and intercultural relations are examined.

It should be noted that out of 300 credit hours needed for a degree, Didactics and Pedagogy are only 28 hours and do not carry grades. This reflects the elite bias of the “Universit√§ten” which until recently only gave degrees for content area which were assumed to be sufficient for teaching at the Gymnasium.

Discussion ranged over what types of professional competencies would be good for young teachers to develop. The German teachers discussed such aspects as perceived self-efficacy (their example of the young teacher who feels self-confident enough to demand that the Hausmeister carry out tasks); internal self-attribution vs. external attribution (this seems to be jargon that you shouldn’t blame your self or take affronts as personal attacks, rather try to see things in a larger context); and a sense of permission to attend to one’s own needs (taking a night off to watch the soccer match instead of grinding ahead to grade those papers).

Regina Keller then discussed her class for the second module on teacher competencies. She uses a case study method of scenarios gleaned from her experience as a classroom teacher. Again, it came up that this course was not for credit, because the University did not see Didactics as meriting status at a research institution that grants PhDs such as Tubingen.

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