Evidence-Based Learning at School

Regional teacher training for secondary schools in Western Upper Bavaria

In 2013, the supervisory district for secondary schools in Western Upper Bavaria changed both the form and substance of its approach to continuing education based on the newest research on sustainable learning as well as on the reliable results of empirical learning and educational research relevant to both our social system and our school system.

Goals of the new Approach

The systematic process of redevelopment was based on prior continuing education programs, and executed within the framework of legal, staffing, and financial considerations. It is intended to:

  • ensure a high level of retention of information learned in regional training programs
  • encourage effective learning,
  • promote motivation and professionalization in participants,
  • aid in school development in secondary schools in the district.

The new approach is geared towards reaching teaching staff, subject supervisors, and other educators and officials, as well as school administrators and school management. Participants are entrusted with a higher level of responsibility in order to achieve the goals listed above.

Organization of Regional Teacher Training

As before, the basic organization of regional teacher training remains in the hands of the department and its professional staff. However, because of the systematic organization of the new approach, it has become even more important to agree on teacher training content and goals early on. Additionally, speakers participating in the teacher training must be instructed on the fundamentals new to the approach.

Types of Training Courses

Up until the reorganization, one-day training courses were advertised to interested parties, who attended voluntarily. This type of training remains an important component of the approach.

Additionally, however, the approach is now adding staff meetings for subject supervisors and others who can further disseminate the information provided in the meetings, which are obligatory. The content learned in meetings should be transmitted to staff through discussion groups and internal teacher training. Methodological approaches like action-oriented workshops, teacher training days, and professional days with multiple offerings (some running in parallel) are also goals.

The new approach increases the number of trainings and forums for exchange for current and future management staff. External support will be used to facilitate trainings and forums.

Contents of Regional Teacher Trainings

Regional teacher trainings should be oriented towards the following topics:

  • discipline-specific, relevant priorities brought in by subject supervisors themselves,
  • didactic and pedagogical emphases,
  • current and overarching topics (i.e. curriculum alignment, new ISB handouts, etc.),
  • Overarching goals for regional teacher training in western upper Bavaria.

Desirable or Mandatory Methods to Support the New Approach Within Individual Regional Teacher Training Programs

Setting clear goals is an important element in sustainable learning. That’s why clearly stating objectives and verbally embedding individual teacher trainings into the context of larger goals is so necessary.

Because of the new fundamental principles of regional teacher training, it’s also important that trainings be set up to provide time for discussion and application. Participants should also receive follow-up assignments to ensure they are better able to retain what they’ve learned and apply it at school or in their teaching. In support of this goal, a handout has been developed which each participant should receive in order to record how he or she fared on newly gained knowledge at school. After implementing the steps it contains, this handout should be filed in the instructor’s personnel file.

An evaluation takes place at the end of the training. It should be assessed centrally and promptly, and the results distributed to all responsible persons. The results it provides will be analyzed to help develop future trainings. The evaluation questionnaire was reworked to provide a more meaningful debriefing.

If desired, or if necessary, there may be new, voluntary meetings in the same district around three months after the initial training. These should serve the purposes of sustainability and knowledge retention as well as networking.

The materials created for and provided in the training will be placed promptly on the Ministry’s server, where they will be available electronically.

Implementation of Regional Teacher Training in Schools

There are various measures which need to be implemented in schools themselves in order to reach the goals underlying the restructured regional teacher training program.

School administrations need plans for continuing education which they can use to choose particular topics, subjects, and teachers which fit into the plan or into other systematic considerations.

If a continuing education is not mandatory and / or it does not apply to a particular group of persons, two teachers should be chosen from each school if possible to participate.

Since participants are required to apply newly acquired knowledge, school administrators should create a school environment conducive to making this possible.

Ernst Fischer / Daniela Walther
Ministerial service center for secondary modern schools of Western Upper Bavaria