Schools until grade nineEdit
Secondary schools that end before grade ten may require an earlier entry into an assistant teacher program and may benefit from simplified procedures. An example is the Hauptschule in Germany which ends with grade nine (or sometimes ten) and is usually followed by the Berufsschule. The applicability of an assistant teacher program in vocational schools may in part depend on earlier experiences of pupils during secondary school.
Adaptation of the assistant teacher programEdit
Due to the shortness of secondary education the induction of the assistant teachers has to be rescheduled to an earlier point in time, which means the work has to be less demanding but can be a stronger influence on the upbringing of the participants. Different proposals are discussed in the following. All proposal have in common that the pupils, who have qualified as assistant teachers, possibly could receive a recommendation for a more demanding school type, which could make lack of assistant teachers a problem again; comprehensive schools with different school types and other school conglomerates are an exception.
A problem that presents itself is that the pupils of assistant teachers do not reliably have the desired age difference of four years. Pupils in grade seven, who help to supervise the work in a fifth class, can still occasionally accept the role model of the younger pupils for impulsive actions, without conscious acceptance for the role model.
Participation in the assistant teacher program should be graded with an independent grade for the work as an assistant teacher. A failing grade should be interpreted as disqualification, which means the grade does not have to appear on the school certificate.
Proposals for induction and qualificationEdit
Proposal: Letter of applicationEdit
In this variant the pupils must make an application to the class council. Applications can be filed starting from the end of grade six. The class council discusses the applications by means of portfolios with example works of the pupils. As a part of the application the applicants must prepare and hold a lesson in a subject of their choice. For the planning and realization of the lesson others can be consulted and employed (including adults), but any help must be documented. After the lesson the class council debates whether to accept or to decline the application. The class teacher retains a veto right.
Proposal: Junior mentorsEdit
An assistant teacher program can be started with junior mentors. The work of the junior mentors can be used as an evaluation criterion for the admission as assistant teacher. Admission to the program can be voluntary and begin in grade seven. Only junior mentors are allowed to participate.
Proposal: Assistant teachers from grade sevenEdit
In grade seven the class is split into two groups: The more proficient pupils become assistant teachers/mentors, while the less proficient pupils become their pupils/protégés. The assignment between mentors and protégés is made for half a year and is discussed in the class council. The class council can question the ability of assistant teachers and disqualify them. Pupils are to a degree motivated to compete with each other to reach the assistant teacher/mentor qualification.
Proposal: Multistage qualification ladder from grade fiveEdit
A multistage qualification ladder can begin in grade five. The stages of the qualification ladder can be discussed in the class council and can be amended. Every pupil can gain partial qualifications through voluntary acceptance of offices in the class council or acceptance of tasks assigned by class council or class teacher. The partial qualifications are categorized according to the abilities a pupil can demonstrate with each partial qualification. The group is continually motivated to discuss aspects of the abilities necessary for an assistant teacher. The class can add additional demands for assistant teachers, which have to be fulfilled by all assistant teachers within the semester or the following semester. A pupil who has gained all partial qualifications can receive the assistant teacher status immediately, irrespective of the grade. A pupil who gained assistant teacher qualification in the sixth or even the fifth grade could be allowed to work in his own class as an assistant teacher but should not be allowed to leave the class room for independent work yet. A pupil's ability to teach can be discussed in the class council and can be revoked in a ballot, which means the pupil has to regain the revoked aspects of his ability to teach with partial qualifications.
Proposal: Voluntary courses as qualificationEdit
The qualification as an assistant teacher is gained through participation in two graded but voluntary courses. The course instructors should be informed about participants trying to gain the qualification in order to be able to support the participants appropriately. Both courses can be attended in the two semesters of grade seven at the earliest. The courses can be at a practical level but should not be free of theory, because assistant teachers might otherwise not be able to train all necessary aspects of the qualification to teach. One of the courses can focus on the qualification as an assistant teacher as a main topic; the course can follow the design of the Assistant teacher course but should demand less independent derivations of concepts and should guide the participants more. The work as an assistant teacher during the course can be graded independently. Proposed topics for voluntary courses can be found on the handouts for individual curricula.
Parent education courseEdit
A recommended project, which should be mandatory for the pupils, is a book project during which the participants write a parent education course. The project can be offered over several grades to allow the pupils to derive utility from the possible insights early and to allow the older pupils to gain further insights at the higher level of understanding of a higher grade. Parts of the project can be distributed over the grades seven to nine. The pupils are enabled to have a positive influence on their own upbringing and they are prepared for a future role as a parent. The parent education course can be offered for parents of fifth graders but should be complemented with professional material.