Research Paper By Wiebke Kleine
(Life Coach, GERMANY)
When I mention in Germany that I am training as a coach, I get a lot of puzzled looks. Coaching is not necessarily a well known nor is it a widely used profession in Germany. However, it has found its way into education. In this paper, I am looking at two examples, the University of Munich as well at the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia, where coaching has been introduced into teacher training.
Having gone through teacher training myself, I am curious to examine why coaching has been introduced, in what way it is practiced or used and what the benefits of coaching are to teachers in training. The aim of this paper is to find answers to these questions.
Professional Development for Teachers
I have worked in schools in two different countries – Germany, where I completed my teacher training, and Australia, where I worked as a newly trained teacher.
In both countries, teachers need to complete a certain amount of hours of Professional Development (PDs) throughout a school year. PDs are not optional, they are mandatory. Teachers engage in PDs, that help them improve their teaching practice or in order to learn something new in regards to the content that they teach.
All schools I have worked at organize PDs for all staff at the start of each school year. In addition to that, teachers attend PDs throughout the school year depending on their needs or interests.
PDs are usually delivered as seminars with a trainer or consultant.
This kind of PD by itself, which just about every teacher has experienced, rarely results in a significant change in teacher practice and rarely results in increased learning for children. According to a 2009 study on professional development, teachers need close to fifty hours of PD in a given area to improve their skills and their students’ learning (Darling-Hammond and others, 2009). While the research on the ineffectiveness of “one-shot” PD continues to pile up, a search is under way for PD that might work… (Impact Teachers Principals Students Elena Aguilar).
Teaching – a multidimensional profession
I didn’t call myself anything. I was more than a teacher. And less. In the high school classroom you are a drill sergeant, a rabbi, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low-level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a clown, a counselor, a dress-code enforcer, a conductor, an apologist, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a politician, a therapist, a fool, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother – father – brother – sister – uncle – aunt, a bookkeeper, a critic, a psychologist, the last straw (Frank McCourt, Teacher Man: A Memoir Chapter 2, Page 19).
As Frank McCourt sums it up, teachers are not just teaching. They have to be competent in a number of areas. Their lessons have to be effective, as they have to address a group of students with different learning styles, while also supporting each child or student individually. In a lot of schools in Germany, special needs students are integrated into the mainstream classroom. This means, teachers have to work in teams with special needs teachers and social workers.