Why is an ideal teacher necessary

What the perfect teacher must be able to do

The largest educational study in the world shows: the teacher is crucial for educational success. With this, expert John Hattie hits a nerve. A new teacher training program is being worked on in Austria.

You're always in the spotlight - and not just in the classroom. No, teachers are increasingly the focus of media coverage, public discussions and political decisions. That alone should be an indication that teaching is an extremely important job. In the past this seemed to be forgotten more and more often.

Now there is new momentum in the debate. This is ensured, among other things, by the sensational educational study by the New Zealand educationalist John Hattie. Around 800 meta-studies, which are based on over 50,000 individual studies with 250 million students, were evaluated for the largest educational study ever made. This comes to a simple conclusion. Put simply: the focus is on the teacher. The learning success of the students comes and goes with him and his work.

The political discourse around the new teacher training underscores the relevance of the teacher himself and their training. It has long been debated how important professional and how essential pedagogical training is. The review period for the corresponding draft laws recently expired. The criticisms were numerous. Now we will see whether these are heard and whether the quality of the training increases with it.


Dispute over school psychologists

However, it is not only in terms of training that teachers are currently the focus of political discussions. The dispute over a new salary and service law for future teachers is also intensifying. Official Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek (SPÖ) smashed back the teachers' demands for additional support staff. They wanted 13,000 additional employees to be employed in administration and as psychologists.

The number is "illusory". "You can forget them," said the minister the day before a government meeting with teachers' unions today, Wednesday. At the same time, she made it clear that the number of support staff will depend on how many hours new teachers will spend in class in the future.

The minister ended the last round of negotiations at short notice. She was angry about the participation of 15 trade unionists. Now she openly referred to the AHS teachers' union as the "main drag". Because, according to Heinisch-Hosek: “The compulsory school teachers would have to shout Hallelujah, the offer is that good.” She still hopes for a solution by the summer.

In the meantime, “Die Presse” has taken a look at what challenges await teachers - and what qualities a good teacher should have.

On May 15th, the Hattie study will be discussed at an event organized by the “Presse”, the EducationGrenzenlos initiative and the University of Vienna. Location: Währingerstraße 29, 1090 Vienna, lecture hall 1. Time: 7 p.m.

Expertise and great enthusiasm

One thing is undisputed: teachers have to be extremely competent in their subject matter. That has now also arrived in politics. All types of teachers - elementary school, secondary school and AHS teachers - should complete their studies with a master’s degree thanks to the new teacher training. Only those who are enthusiastic about the subject matter can interest students in it. It is not acceptable for teachers to teach subjects they have not studied. This poses a challenge for the secondary schools. Up until now this has been the norm there.

Gut feeling and empathy

The fact that the teachers' union is fighting for more school psychologists speaks for itself. Because currently it is mostly the educators themselves who have to deal with the personal problems of the children. Your complaint: More and more often you have to answer for the failures of your parents' home. It is undisputed that a good educator should listen to the students' concerns. He should be empathetic and have a good gut feeling. First and foremost, he should still be able to concentrate on his job as a teacher.

Observe student performance

Individualization is the buzzword in education policy. Behind the word is - at least at first glance - a simple wish: teachers should observe every single student. You should recognize where the individual stands and where they are making mistakes. At the same time, this means that one and the same teacher should adapt his lessons to 25 people. A difficult task. This shows that not only professional training but also pedagogical qualifications are important.

Insert criticism

Critical ability is one of the most important qualities a teacher should have, according to education researcher John Hattie. Educators who take student feedback seriously can not only improve their own educational performance. With this consideration for the needs of the students, you also have a positive effect on their learning progress. Hattie explains that this is one of the most important factors.

Seat meat

Educators need perseverance. Especially when it comes to political reforms. It took four years for the draft law on new teacher training to be submitted for assessment in April. The teachers have been waiting for a new service law since 2008. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that this will be decided before the elections in autumn.

Be steadfast

The pressure from parents increases. They try to get the teachers to give their children better grades. Often they want to secure a place for their child in high school. In Vienna, complaints from teachers about this increased so much that the city school council president even wrote a letter to the educators. She encouraged the teachers to be steadfast. You have confidence in their educational expertise.

A good voice

Hoarseness is considered the number one teacher disease. A good voice is a prerequisite. It is important not only to convey the subject matter in the lessons, but also to drown out the mostly high level of noise in the classes. Accordingly, it is not surprising that teachers' absenteeism due to voice disorder results in high costs. In the US alone it is $ 2.5 billion annually.

See through the eyes of the student

Teachers are not scientists. In contrast to these, John Hattie expects teachers to see lessons through the eyes of the students. You have to put yourself in the students' shoes. You should know why it is difficult for them to understand things.

Shake the answers out of your sleeve

In many cases, educators are the first point of contact for students. What happens in the world is discussed in class. Teachers should have answers to questions about environmental disasters, terrorist attacks, and political events. You must be well read. The new media - keyword Facebook - added a special challenge.

keep the balance

The image has been scratched. Once teachers enjoyed a similar reputation as doctors, today they have a reputation as lazy nine-week summer vacationers. Teacher bashing has multiple negative effects. First: The teaching profession has meanwhile become less attractive for good school leavers. Second: Public disdain is increasingly demotivating for educators. Third: The lack of support from parents makes working in the class even more difficult. The damaged image requires a balancing act on the part of the teachers: on the one hand, they should not take public opinion too seriously, but on the other hand, they should be open to criticism.

Small steps

Working with children and young people requires one thing above all: patience. Because the students determine the pace of learning. If they do not understand the material, it is up to the teachers to explain things differently and better.

("Die Presse", print edition, May 8, 2013)