Teachers in Germany are in daily contact with specialists from a variety of disciplines at school, such as inclusion assistants and school psychologists. The recently adopted legal right to all-day care will make working in multi-professional teams even more important in the future. In the past, cooperation between would-be teachers and other education specialists has only rarely been part of the degree curriculum. Only one in four higher education institutions (HEIs) currently offer interdisciplinary courses for teacher training students. These are the findings of the latest publication issued by Monitor Lehrerbildung.
As an institution, schools in Germany are no longer the sole domain of teachers. In their everyday work, teachers are often part of a network that also includes experts such as social workers, inclusion assistants and educators.
This kind of multi-professional cooperation is a reality in Germany, especially at all-day schools. The legal entitlement to all-day care at primary school from 2026 onwards, which was decided by the Federal government in May 2021, will further increase the importance of multi-professional teamwork.
Interdisciplinary courses exist at only one in four HEIs
The latest survey of HEIs conducted by Monitor Lehrerbildung in 2020 revealed that interdisciplinary courses where teacher training students learn alongside students of other educational disciplines are offered at only a quarter of the HEIs surveyed. Only ten per cent of HEIs have institutionalised formats for coordinating the curricula of teacher training programmes with other degree programmes in education.
“Current teacher training courses are still skewed towards lone wolves. And yet schools, being social spaces, now require teachers who can act as team players,” remarked Ekkehard Winter, Executive Director of Deutsche Telekom Stiftung. “It’s up to teacher training institutions to convey a multi-professional culture of cooperation to future education staff from an early stage.”
Professional groups only encounter each other in school practice
To ensure that the legal right to all-day care is coupled with a promise of quality in favour of good all-day education, HEIs should establish interdisciplinary and cooperative teaching formats across teacher training courses and other degree programmes in education. This is the call made by the authors of the latest publication issued by Monitor Lehrerbildung entitled “Gemeinsam mehr erreichen – Multiprofessionelle Kooperation beginnt im Lehramtsstudium” (Achieving more together – multi-professional cooperation starts in teacher training). After all, in the absence of early points of contact, these professional groups will often only encounter each other in school practice, and will know little about each other.
According to a 2019 survey of school directors, which has yet to be published by Monitor Lehrerbildung, there is a gulf between ideal and reality in this respect: while the ability to work in an interdisciplinary manner was considered to be very important for the teaching profession, the school directors felt that future teachers gain little knowledge of this from their studies.
“Teamwork must be practised continuously, especially when it comes to cross-professional cooperation. This is just as true when embarking on a teacher training programme as it is later on in the professional world. Only then can the different professions, with their respective skills and perspectives on the child, complement each other and grow together as a team,” remarked Dagmar Wolf, Head of Educational Activities at the Robert Bosch Foundation.
About Monitor Lehrerbildung
Monitor Lehrerbildung is the only teacher training database in Germany. This database at www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de provides a clear presentation of the relevant data concerning the first phase of teacher training in Germany. A total of 61 HEIs and all 16 federal states completed the latest survey conducted by Monitor Lehrerbildung in 2020. All data and lots more information on the topic can be accessed freely at www.monitor-lehrerbildung.de. Monitor Lehrerbildung is a joint project of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the CHE Centre for Higher Education, the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung, Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH and Stifterverband.