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Teacher with students (c) Jana Dünnhaupt Uni Magdeburg
06.09.2023 from 
Study + Teaching
A detour into the classroom

Certificate course for alternative entry teachers at the University of Magdeburg

The shortage of qualified teachers has continued to grow nationwide in recent years and has become a serious problem for the education system. This makes it all the more important to get people excited about the teaching profession. Wolfram Richter wanted to do something about the shortage of teachers - and opted for alternative entry. "In the summer of 2020, there was the problem at my son's school that a lot of classes were cancelled," he recalls. To draw attention to the low teaching load, the parents' council turned to the then education minister of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The response was a call for help from the parents.

"The letter said that skilled workers were urgently needed and also referred to the program for people entering the company from other countries," says Wolfram Richter. He continues: "At the same time, I had an appraisal interview at work that didn't satisfy me. So I inquired about how this program would work." After that inquiry, the 41-year-old eventually left his job of several years as an engineer in an engineering firm and began his career as a teacher. Because Wolfram Richter had completed vocational training as a chef and had a university degree in food technology, as well as meeting all other hiring requirements, he was able to apply for jobs at schools. He was finally accepted at an all-day school in Wolmirstedt, where he has since taught technology and home economics, among other subjects.

Portrait Wolfram Richter (c) Hannah TheileWolfram Richter (Photo: Hannah Theile)

The transition from job shadowing to teaching on her own was smooth and without any problems. "The probationary period of one year seems very long at first and may deter some interested parties. However, one should not forget that there are always vacations in between. So you then have enough time to see if the teaching profession is what you had in mind," he explains. After the induction at his school, the 41-year-old became aware of the certificate course for alternative entry teachers at the University of Magdeburg through a colleague. "Home economics is a great subject, however, I would like to be able to teach a major subject in the future. That's why I chose mathematics," says the teacher. The certificate course takes place part-time and lasts approximately 2 years for teachers at secondary schools. Participants continue to teach at their schools during this time and are given one day off a week to study.

Wolfram Richter has been studying part-time for a year now and is very happy in his new job. "Of course, you can earn more money in the private sector, but that's not what matters to me. I have gained so much quality of life. It's a nice feeling to come home and know that you've taught the kids something," he says. He finds studying challenging, but manageable. "In addition to the lectures, there are also exercises and assignments. The course content is very diverse - from educational science to calculus, it's all there."

The aim is for teachers to acquire both subject-specific scientific and subject-specific didactic knowledge so that they are able to teach science-based mathematics lessons. "What we are taught in the program goes beyond the high school graduation level. I'm not going to pass on everything I learn here to my students. I would like to see even more methodology in the lectures so that I also know how to teach it to the children," says Wolfram Richter. In addition to the technical components, personality traits such as empathy and sensitivity are very important in everyday work, as the teacher can confirm: "It's important that teachers understand the realities of children's and young people's lives and are able to empathize with them. Since I have a teenager at home, I can understand that very well," he says with a smile.

Wolfram Richter can only encourage all interested parties who are considering entering the teaching profession to do so, because "intrinsic motivation is the most important thing. The missing technical knowledge can be acquired. After all, that's what continuing education opportunities like the certificate courses at the University of Magdeburg are for." Those interested in learning more about lateral entry and the certificate course can find more information here. On May 21, 2024, there will also be a taster day for lateral entry teachers at the University of Magdeburg in the subjects of mathematics and physics. There, interested parties can find out more about the course content and ask questions.