All of the universities in Berlin offer study disciplines for future educators. The institutions work as a team to train and educate teachers.
At Berlin’s universities, programs to educate teachers who will later work at the elementary and secondary school levels are organized through central institutes. The lead institution at Freie Universität is the Dahlem School of Education (DSE), at Technische Universität Berlin it is the SETUB (School of Education TU Berlin), at Humboldt-Universität the Professional School of Education (PSE), and at Berlin University of the Arts the Zentrum für künstlerische Lehrkräftebildung (zfkl). The universities work together on an overarching basis in multiple groups with the goal of coordinating and further developing the training and education programs and course offerings for future teachers.
The members of the Teacher Education Steering Group (Steuerungsgruppe Lehrerbildung) coordinate teacher education between the universities and the relevant Berlin State Senate administrations and set out the key points. The group works on the quality of degree programs in accordance with the Teacher Education Act for the State of Berlin (Lehrkräftebildungsgesetz). The steering group includes the presidents of the universities that offer degree programs toward the teaching credential (or, on a substitute basis, the vice presidents responsible for this subject) and the senators in Berlin who are responsible for schools and higher education.
An Interface with Real-world Practices in the Schools
The Cooperation Council (Kooperationsrat) acts as an interface with real-world practices in the schools. It was established by the Berlin State Senate administration responsible for schools. Under the Teacher Education Act for the State of Berlin (Lehrkräftebildungsgesetz), its tasks include coordinating the professional studies content of degree programs and practical studies in the schools. The Cooperation Council is made up of representatives of the central institutes of teacher training at the universities, members of the seminars focusing on real-world practices in the schools, persons affiliated with the schools where training takes place, and members of the Senate administration responsible for schools.
The Berlin Education Training Act is also the basis for the practical semester, introduced in 2016, for students enrolled in master’s degree programs toward the teaching credential. In multiple working groups on subjects such as internship placements, supporting learning, and research on learning, the universities in Berlin coordinate with the Senate administration in organizational and conceptual terms. Students working toward a teaching credential also benefit from the cooperation among Berlin’s universities through the Berlin mentoring training program: With support from external funding provided by the Senate administration, the program will train about 1,000 teachers between now and 2020 to act as mentors to support students during their practical semester. Efforts to coordinate the content of the qualification program started in 2013. The program is offered according to a standardized approach.
Alongside cooperation at the management and administration level, there are also joint projects, such as Zukunftscampus – Neue Lehrkräfte für Berlin (Future Campus – New Teachers for Berlin). This project is aimed at bringing young people into the teaching profession, as Berlin’s schools face a shortage of teachers. The project is sponsored by Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität, Technische Universität Berlin, and Berlin University of the Arts, along with the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Familie (Senate Administration for Education, Youth, and Family) and the Berliner Netzwerk für Lehrkräfte mit Migrationshintergrund (Berlin Network for Teachers with Immigrant Backgrounds). The goal is to provide information to young people starting in grade 10 regarding studying toward a teaching credential and give them tips for embarking on their studies. These secondary school students receive information on how a degree program is structured, possible combinations of subjects, and how to apply. They can talk to students working toward the teaching credential about various subjects and get useful information about everyday life at the university. In workshops, teachers talk about their day-to-day work and academic advising specialists provide information on applying to a university and financing a study program. The Zukunftscampus program is offered in late February or early March of every year, hosted by a different university in rotation
Preparing for the Multilingual Classroom
More than 30 percent of primary and secondary school students in Berlin are learning German as a second language and speak a different language at home. For some of these students, and also for some whose native language is German, the linguistic requirements that apply in school pose an obstacle. With this in mind, the goal of the Sprachen – Bilden – Chancen: Innovationen (Languages – Education – Opportunities: Innovations) project for teaching credentials in Berlin was to give teachers better preparation for dealing with the linguistic diversity found in Berlin’s classrooms. The joint project between Humboldt-Universität, Freie Universität, and Technische Universität Berlin ran for just under three years, until 2017. The findings of the project are supposed to help strengthen teacher education in language acquisition, language development, and German as a foreign language. Various activities took place with this aim in mind, including analyzing the “Language Acquisition / German as a Second Language” modules for students in credential programs and developing suggestions for further development for the various phases of teacher education: studies, preparatory service, and continuing education.