What should you know as a teacher

High demands on teachers

"In public, teachers are often portrayed as in many respects enviable part-time jobbers" (Reisinger 2009, p. 85), but the fact that teachers have to meet very high demands is mostly ignored. You should be well trained, from the technical area to the didactic to the promotion of social contacts. In the opinion of Walter Herzog (Department of Educational Psychology at the Institute for Educational Science at the University of Bern), society and politics are involved Teacher picture rightly, the overwhelming and burnout almost institutionalized, because in the training the proximity to the respective discipline is necessary so that the teachers are also confronted scientifically with their subject. What is taught at the universities of teacher education is largely decoupled from specialist knowledge, there is no direct reference to research, which is more a given at the university than at the universities of teacher education. Even the university must not marginalize teacher training and must be ready to perceive teacher training as a separate task. Since it is in the interests of the university to get good students, they must have been well trained beforehand, i.e. in good schools by good teachers. The university must therefore have a genuine interest in the Teacher training to take with you. According to Herzog, a teacher must be able to do his subject, i.e. master the material he is teaching, which is a basic requirement for teaching a subject. But he also has to Mediation knowledge or Mediation skills own, i.e. what you do as a teacher. At the moment there is a risk that the pedagogical core will be buried due to the strongly growing external demands on the school, for example through PISAwhere one compares schools or school systems from the outside. Abstract educational standards aim to determine what the output, the productivity of the school is. Behind it stands a technocratic model of school, a very one-dimensional model that hides the mediating character of the teaching profession, where both sides have to be taken into account. A technology is something that you can apply and then a product comes out. This pressure results in the teachers being overwhelmed, so that it is the structures that burden the teachers with too many, too heterogeneous tasks. One forgets that in the teaching profession you are more involved in the job than in other professions, i.e. you have to pay more attention in the training that the future teachers learn to set themselves apart or to get advice in the event of an impending overload.

source: Interview in Standard from February 1, 2011

The public is often not clear about the diversity involved in teaching. Teachers not only have the task of passing on their technical knowledge to the students, but in addition to this it is also necessary to take pedagogical aspects into account. Teachers have to motivate their students as far as external motivation is possible. They may also have to deal with family problems. Not only personal contact with the students, but also contact with parents and colleagues is important in the teaching profession (cf. Reisinger, 2009, p.85). This mostly negative image that the public has of teachers is constantly trying to improve the quality of the school system. The teachers are of course often the focus. With the different methods for quality improvement, however, the criteria according to which the behavior of the teachers can be measured are missing. For this reason, the results of such procedures are purely based on theory and hypothesis (see Reisinger, 2009, p.86).

Competencies and requirements for teachers

During their training, teachers must also acquire the ability to pedagogical practical knowledge in pedagogical situations, the central question being how student teachers can acquire a variety of skills and behaviors during their training that enable them to put theoretical pedagogical knowledge into practice. Future-oriented teacher training must convey a high level of technical competence, but studies have shown that the didactic options for action also depend on the conceptual understanding of the subject and that educational sciences should have a special place in basic training, as diagnosis, counseling, support and individualization skills are becoming more and more important (see Mayr & Neuweg, 2009, p. 106).

In general, it can be assumed that teachers must first and foremost have the same basic skills as any other good teacher. In particular, he / she should have detailed knowledge of his / her subject and be able to teach students successfully (cf. Schratz, 2009, p. 112). Research results (Parrenoud 1999) such as "dix nouvelles compétence pour enseigner. Invitation au voyage" on the competence of teaching staff showed that a European teacher should be able to promote motivation, teamwork and learning effectiveness. In addition, he / she should participate in the school curriculum and manage the cooperation with the parents as well as cope with the ethnic differences within the class (Schratz 2009, p. 112). However, teachers should be socially competent and also develop an awareness of fearful and reluctant students and thus important impulses for improving the School climates put. Are the lessons vivid enough? What is the social climate like? Do the students support each other or is bullying taking place? Are the learning conditions ideal?

In longitudinal studies (Mayr, 2011) on prospective students, students and graduates at universities of teacher education, the conducive skills examined during studies and teaching. Mayr found that personality characteristics such as willingness to make contact, stability and self-control as well as professional interests, including teaching and upbringing, are essential indicators. Personal characteristics, such as good cognitive characteristics, have a positive influence on the learning processes and on certain learning outcomes in studies and at work. The method of using learning opportunities and their effectiveness is determined by the quality. Pedagogical skills can be learned most effectively with practical experience during studies and at work. First of all, it seems essential to present the teaching profession to the public as an attractive field of work and to draw the attention of those interested in studying to it. Those who are considering studying can clarify or check their interests and suitability, among other things, by means of scientifically proven test and self-exploration procedures (cf. Mayr, 2011, p. 84f).

New skills for teachers in response to social change and a dynamic environment

Teachers should contribute to the political education of students, such as living in a multicultural and tolerant society and living as a European citizen, as well as lifelong learning and promoting an environmentally conscious life. For example, in order to be able to cope with the ethnic differences within a class, the European teacher has to deal more deeply with the social, cultural and ethnic diversity of his / her students. Cooperation with the parents is particularly necessary here (cf. Schratz, 2009, p. 113).

New media in the classroom

For around 15 years, attempts have been made in Austria to integrate e-learning, computers and the Internet into lessons, whereby the Austrian schools in German-speaking countries do relatively well in terms of IT equipment, as an evaluation showed. However, new media are not only a technical challenge for teachers; rather, teachers are afraid of losing control of their lessons, because pupils who take their smartphone out of their pocket during a physics lesson to check what is being taught on Wikipedia and Young people who research presentations on the Internet that a teacher can hardly check with his level of knowledge. In the study “School and Internet” by the Institute for Journalism at the University of Vienna (2009), which examined how teachers deal with new media, it was shown that some teachers feel embarrassed when students bring knowledge that they themselves have just don't have them ready. In view of the new media, the role of the teacher as an expert can no longer be sustained in all details; rather, they should dare to discover new things together with students and use them for the class, i.e. integrate the Internet and new media into the subject lesson. Teachers have solid application skills, but the active integration of the Internet into lessons usually fails due to a lack of ideas for didactic implementation.
source: The press of March 21, 2011.

The European teacher

The European teacher sees himself as someone who has its roots in a particular country but at the same time belongs to a larger Europe. The European teacher has knowledge of European history and its influence on European society. He / she can evaluate the education system in his / her own country and compare it with the education systems of other European countries. In addition, he / she speaks at least one other European language and can also teach in this (Schratz 2009, p. 114 ff).

Furthermore, she / he has a positive relationship to his / her own culture and is at the same time open to other cultures and sees his / her work with heterogeneous students as a valuable aspect and respects all differences (Schratz 2009, p. 114 ff)

In addition, he / she has received training that enables him / her to teach in other European countries. She / he cooperates and exchanges his / her experiences with those of colleagues from other EU countries and works with them, for example, on curricula. He / she also promotes the mobility of his / her own pupils by using EU programs in the form of class or school exchanges (Schratz 2009, p. 114 ff).

See also From Novice to Expert and become a teacher

From career aspiration to professionalization

Many teachers were over theirs from an early age Career aspiration in the clear. While many late decision-makers have rather poor qualifications and thus often form a problem group, for people who have already decided on this profession in their childhood, the career aspiration is an indication of a successful career prognosis. Furthermore, some analyzes suggest that an early professional biography has a positive effect on academic success. There are various reasons for setting an occupation at an early stage. The role model set by parents who are already teachers or the familiarity of the professional field through other close people often play an important role. A child's enthusiasm or admiration for one of his teachers can also play a role, as can social contacts with siblings and the desire for social advancement (cf. Kraler, 2009, p.188). When looking at the social environment of the student teachers, it is noticeable that there are almost no only children among them. Most of them have one or more siblings, are usually at the top of the sibling row and state that they used to be responsible for them more often. For more than half of the student teachers, the teaching profession is associated with an educational social advancement, as many of their parents sometimes only completed compulsory school with or without an apprenticeship. Only a few have a university degree or something similar (cf. Kraler, 2009, p.188f). Often, career aspirations begin at a very early age, when children, for example, play teachers. You try to imitate the adults and thus get your first insight into the world of the teaching profession. During school time, favorite teachers or parents, if they are active in the teaching profession, are seen as role models. In later life as a student, the university or college education offers the so-called start-up catering for the profession as a teacher. In order to do their work in this area in the best possible way, the future educator needs enough experience, professional biography and professional development. The aim is that the education system gets a good teacher and that the teacher is satisfied at the same time (cf. Kraler, 2009, p.192ff).

During their studies, student teachers are confronted with objective educational tasks that (in part) represent normative development tasks. The objective development tasks include “test identification, understanding of fundamental ideas of the relevant disciplines, practical implementation of the acquired competencies, correction, supplementation and certification. These [...] tasks build on each other and usually have to be completed in the order mentioned ”(Kraler, 2009, p.194). In addition, there are the subjective development tasks such as clarifying roles or clarifying relationships. The student must first familiarize himself with his new situation and possibly break away from the parental home, find new friendships and form student partnerships. He should learn to deal with frustration with the organization of studies. It is also advisable to spend some time abroad to enable yourself to change your perspective. In general, it is important to switch from the student to the teacher perspective in the introductory phase. Only later do you have to complete an internship semester and hold independent lessons (cf. Kraler, 2009, p.195).

Performance patterns of teachers

Basically, one can distinguish between two different performance behavior patterns. On the one hand there is the performance orientation and on the other hand the so-called avoidance of effort. The performance orientation relates to the personal performance level and the personal performance goals of a teacher. Performance-oriented teachers do their job vigorously and purposefully in order to achieve certain goals. In contrast, there is also work avoidance. In doing so, teachers try to evade their tasks and obligations. However, this form of minimalism takes two different forms into account. The intelligent form of effort avoidance simply avoids unnecessary and additional tasks. Furthermore, there is also the protective function, whereby for certain reasons care is taken not to overload oneself (cf. Reisinger, 2009, p. 86). In addition, a distinction can be made between avoiding exertion in teaching-related activities, avoiding exertion in the event of a lack of recognition and excessive demands, and avoiding exertion in the case of additional teaching duties. In a nutshell, one can say that the less interest and conscientiousness a teacher shows and the higher the workload, the more likely it is that teachers will reduce their efforts (see Reisinger, 2009, p.87).

"The quality of schools undoubtedly depends on performance-oriented, motivated teachers. Everything should therefore be designed in such a way that the activities of the teachers are valued, supported and not hindered (Oelkers quoted from Reisinger 2009, p. 93) given, there is still no guarantee that a school will have a lot of motivated and competent teachers. Everyone is different and therefore also pursues different goals. "The only thing that matters (...) is that the intended effect is produced by those who produce them intended to be evaluated as valuable according to its value system "(Brezinka quoted from Reisinger 2009, p. 86). Depending on the subjective performance behavior of the teacher, we differentiate between two different performance behavior patterns: performance orientation and avoidance of effort.

Performance orientation

"Performance-oriented teachers are characterized here who tackle essential professional tasks with commitment, vigorously and purposefully and manage them efficiently (Reisinger 2009, p. 86). It is important not to confuse performance orientation with performance motivation or even equate it with performance motivation. Achievement motivation exists before one A certain action is only started, while the performance orientation has an impact on the performance of an activity that has already started. In the case of performance-oriented teachers, one can again choose between:

  • "self-centered teachers" (62.9%), the focus here is on achieving your own goals and achieving educational goals is rather short to medium-term, and
  • "task-oriented teachers" (37.1%) who strive primarily and long-term to achieve educational goals differ (cf. Reisinger 2008, pp. 89-90).

Avoidance of effort

"The tendency to evade the efforts associated with the performance in the teaching profession through the active use of suitable strategies to varying degrees" (Rollet quoted from Reisinger 2009, p. 87). Here we differentiate between:

  • "Avoidance of effort in the case of a lack of recognition and excessive demands"(most pronounced),
  • "Avoidance of effort for teaching-related activities"(in the second place) which includes preparation and follow-up, correction work, etc. and as a third component
  • "Avoidance of effort with additional teaching duties"which include training, supplements, class board business, etc. (cf. Reisinger 2008, p. 91).

Measurement of performance

In a study from January 2005 to June 2006, several instruments were used, such as personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, compatibility and conscientiousness), professional interest, professional sensitivities, performance orientation, avoidance of exertion and socio-demographic information. The performance of teachers cannot be measured directly because the precisely formulated criteria of how it should be are missing. "Discrepancies between actual and target (both of which have not yet been clearly clarified in the case of teachers) try to remedy education managers with measures that are largely aimed at" increasing the competence "of teachers" (Reisinger 2009, p. 92). With the help of a cluster analysis, three types of teachers could be identified:

  • Group of "committed teachers" (38.7%), who are characterized by an above-average high performance orientation and low effort avoidance,
  • a not inconsiderable one "Risk group" (34.8%), who show a very high avoidance of exertion and a low performance orientation and
  • an unsatisfied, stressed group of "Average performers" (26.5%) with a mean value for performance orientation and for avoidance of exertion (cf. Reisinger 2009, p. 92).

Since special achievements and effort are hardly rewarded in the teaching profession and there are hardly any opportunities for advancement, the effort simply does not "pay off" for many (depending on the goal orientation) (cf. Reisinger 2008, p. 93). In order to be able to keep the joy of the job "they have to keep their positive attitudes towards the job and protect themselves from wear and tear" (Oelkers quoted from Reisinger 2009, p. 93).

As a result of this study it was found, among other things, that almost 70% of teachers are female. It was also made clear that approx. 36% of teachers teach in places with up to 5000 inhabitants, approx. 35% in large cities, approx. 20% in cities and not even 10% in rural areas. Most of the other results are in the middle range (see Reisinger, 2009, p.87 ff.). Another model, the so-called mixed Rasch model, allowed two classes of teachers to be determined. In the first class, teachers are assigned to the more likely self-centered are, and in the second are the work-oriented Teachers. It is interesting to note that the ego-oriented class has almost 63%, i.e. the clear majority. Task-oriented Teachers usually try to achieve the educational goals and thus have the best conditions that the students need. I-oriented teachers, on the other hand, are more interested in personal gain and only try to present their achievements in the short to medium term (cf. Reisinger, 2009, p.89 ff.). The Ward cluster analysis revealed three types of teachers. The group of committed teachers, which comprises around 39%, are particularly performance-oriented and are usually very resilient. In comparison, there are also those Risk group with at least 34.8%. This type of teacher avoids effort and often has little interest in his or her profession. The third type of teacher is the average performer, this being mediocre performance-oriented. It is also average with regard to avoidance of exertion (cf. Reisinger, 2009, p.92).


Teachers are often measured by the performance of the students, but often a teacher cannot influence the performance of students if they do not want to. In addition, the various influencing factors that affect teachers are not taken into account in studies. The bad opinion that many people have of teachers is certainly not beneficial for the school system. Teachers should be valued and supported and not hindered by the public (cf. Reisinger, 2009, p.92 f.).


Kraler, C. (2009). Development tasks in university teacher training: starter catering on the way to professionalization. Education and Instruction, 159, 187-197.

Mayr, J. (2011). Select and / or qualify? Empirical findings on good teachers. In J. Abel & G. Faust (eds.), Does teacher training work? Answers from empirical research (pp. 73-89). Münster: Waxmann.

Mayr, J. & Neuweg, G. H. (2009). Teachers as a central resource in the education system: recruitment and qualification. In Werner Specht (Hrsg.), Nationaler Bildungsbericht Österreich 2009, Volume 2: Focused analyzes of key educational policy issues (pp. 99-119). Graz: Leykam.

Oelkers, J. (2007). Quality assurance and teacher motivation (pp. 183-208). In Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed.): Teachers under pressure. Workplace school: between Socrates and social work. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Reisinger, Christa-Monika (2009). Achievement patterns in the teaching profession. Education and Teaching, 159, 85-94.

Rollett, Brigitte (2006). Avoidance of exertion (pp. 371-378). In Rost, D. H. (Hrsg.), Concise Dictionary Pedagogical Psychology. Weinheim: Beltz.

Schratz, M. (2009). Competencies of a European teacher. Education and Teaching, 159, 111-118.


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