TEACHING IS RELATIVE. LEARNING HOW TO TEACH EVEN MORE SO. - THE INNOTE PROJECT AND IT'S VIEW ON NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS' FREEDOM, SUPPORT AND SUPERVISION IN EUROPE’S INDUCTION CULTURES
University of Regensburg (GERMANY)
In the 2005 OECD survey "Teachers Matter", almost all European countries reported a shortage of teachers, shortfalls in teaching standards and skills, few mentoring arrangements and little support, especially for young teachers at the beginning of their working careers. The European Parliament and European Commission thus encourage the promotion of formal and informal support for the ongoing professional development of teachers, as stated in the Parliament's resolution "Improving the Quality of Teacher Education". In this context, particular attention needs to be paid to NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) in order to combat their doubts, reduce their drop-out rates and, thus, strengthen the basis of our educational cultures.
Although the expectations NQTs have and the problems they encounter are universal or at least very similar across national borders, young teachers between Helsinki and Barcelona are by no means trained and supported in a similar way, not during their university studies and even less at the start of their working careers (here referred to as induction). In the context of the EU-LLP-Comenius Project InNoTE (Induction for Novice Teachers in Europe), universities and schools from seven European Countries (Netherlands, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Scotland) thus cooperate to exchange ideas and good practice examples of national systems, informal mentoring arrangements and supportive programmes for newly qualified teachers. Looking at the heterogenous values and ways of induction in Europe, we conceive very diverse approaches, ranging from fairly liberal laissez faire practices to highly regulated induction systems. Whereas Finland and the Netherlands place very close to the beginning, the German (Bavarian) system can be seen at the far end of the scale. In Bavaria, for example, there is a rather systematic – some would argue a far too systematic, long and strict – approach to induction. Structures and procedures are legally codified ( BayLBG/Law of teacher Education in Bavaria and in the ZALG/Legal regulations for the education and training of NQTs in Bavaria), establishing an induction period of 24 months with several assessment procedures and examinations to be passed before newly qualified teachers can work as independent professionals.
While numerous countries in Europe are currently planning an expansion of induction programs, Bavarian officials are considering reforms of the present system to combat the lack of motivation and high drop-out rates among NQTs. Thus, a comparison of the Bavarian, Finish and Dutch systems promises to be interesting, not only to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both, more regulated versus more liberal approaches, but also and especially to see if and how an exchange of ideas and practices can be fruitful and beneficial to all sides involved. – Taking into account structural aspects, public perceptions and measurable consequences of the different systems, our guiding question is: how many rules would we need and how much laissez-faire could we enjoy in an ideal induction system that supports without pressure and guides without orders?