Bringing together and discussing different perspectives on teacher training in Germany was not only the goal, but also the result of the successful LAP final conference. In addition to academics and students, the 120 participants included practitioners from schools and teacher training programs, representatives of the Standing Scientific Commission of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder as well as the ministries of cultures. The conference was highly topical in view of the current shortage of teachers discussed in the media, the public and professional circles, which was examined from different perspectives in the welcoming address by LIfBi Director Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt and especially in the panel discussion.
A Rich Harvest of Data
In her opening lecture, Dr. Hilde Schaeper, long-time LAP project manager at the project partner German Center for Higher Education and Science Research (DZHW), compared the development of the Teacher Education Panel with the sowing and harvesting of a unique data treasure. LAP created a Germany-wide data collection on the educational trajectories of (prospective) teachers. It includes longitudinal information of the educational trajectories of prospective teachers within the framework of the National Education Panel Study, covering all phases of teacher education and the first years in the school service, partly under corona conditions, over ten years.
With a view to transferring scientific knowledge, LAP data can be used specifically, among other things, to derive recommendations for practice and educational policy and to contribute to improving teacher education.
The teaching profession must become more attractive: Panel discussion with practitioners and academics
The final panel discussion addressed the many current challenges facing teachers and the concept of teacher training in Germany. These included, among other things, working time models for teachers, the general attractiveness of the teaching profession, the shortage of teachers, the practical relevance of studies and the use of digital media in the classroom. The latter was addressed in particular by Tobias Raue, who was awarded Teacher of the Year 2020 and who has been lecturing and blogging for many years on the topic of learners' creative use of digital tools. He was joined in the discussion by Prof. Dr. Rebecca Lazarides (University of Potsdam) and Prof. Dr. Barbara Drechsel (University of Bamberg) as representatives of academia, as well as Mark Rackles, former State Secretary for Education in the Berlin Senate and co-initiator of the "Bildungsrat von unten" (Education Council from Below), which was founded in February 2023 and networks education activists nationwide.
The moderators, Prof. Dr. Ilka Wolter and Sebastian Franz from LIfBi, summed up the lively discussion with a view to the future: With regard to the development of teacher training, a wide range of requirements must be taken into account that future teachers will be confronted with in the classroom. These include, for example, the use of digital media or dealing with heterogeneous class compositions, e.g. with regard to language, special needs or migration history. The working conditions for teachers must also be improved - not only to make the profession attractive to more young people, but also so that fewer teachers leave the profession or turn to alternative career fields after graduation.
Research Results and Outlook
Some initial research findings based on the LAP data, which allow for a variety of analyses on educational and career paths as well as on the professional situation, professional practice, and competencies of (prospective) teachers, were presented alongside findings from other studies in two sessions as well as at the poster presentation. The presentation sessions focused on evaluations of the well-being and stress of young teachers. Papers addressed topics such as emotional exhaustion among student teachers and the role of social networks on well-being during studies. Specific burdens during the Corona pandemic could also already be analyzed with the LAP data. During the presentation of the posters, a variety of other topics were addressed, including several studies on digital competencies, on dropout as a consequence of "practice shock" during the practical semester, on the preparation of prospective teachers for inclusive learning settings, or on challenges during lateral entry into the teaching profession.(à PDF Conference program).
Even after the final conference on the LAP project, research on student teachers continues: the rich data from the Student Teacher Panel (à Data Report) are available free of charge to the national and international research community as part of the "Starting Cohort Students (SC5)"(à Data) of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS).
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