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Placements and School-Based Study

Orientation placement

All teacher-training students must provide evidence of an orientation placement of at least four weeks' duration. This is intended as an opportunity to gain an insight into their future careers. It can be undertaken in schools or other institutions aimed at helping children and/or teenagers. Areas covered in a good orientation placement are work and organisation at a state, church or independent institution for children and/or teenagers, including sports institutions as well as those involved in schools' teaching programmes or extracurricular activities. Involvement at a school can range from sitting in on lessons at different types of school and at various levels to taking part in festivities, school trips and other events outwith the classroom.
Students should complete their orientation placement before starting their degree programme and must have done so at the latest before starting their school-based studies during the lecture-free period. The placement normally involves 30 hours per week and no fewer than 5 hours per working day. It should be guided by a mentor from among the staff of the host institution.
The institution also supplies certification of the placement after its completion. For this to be issued, the student must provide evidence of his or her observations and experiences in the form of a portfolio. The certification of the orientation placement and the portfolio must then be presented to the department of school-based study when registering for school-based study. 

More information on placements and their certification is available on the web pages of the Centre for Teacher Training - Orientation placement.

Work placement

All teacher-training students must provide evidence of a work placement of eight weeks' duration in a production, processing, trading or service-providing business. The placement can be undertaken abroad.

The host company provides certification of the work placement after its completion. For this to be issued, the student must provide evidence of his or her observations and experiences in the form of a portfolio. Students must present this certification to the Institue for Teacher Training and Further Education when registering for their first state teaching examination.

The obligation to undertake a work placement can be waived in cases where a student has already undergone vocational training or engaged in a comparable activity. Such cases are decided by the Institute for Teacher Training and Further Education (click on 'Studium', then on 'Gießen').

School-based study

All students must provide evidence of successful participation in school-based study, as carried out under placement regulations issued by the university. As part of teacher-training, school-based study serves to connect what students learn at university with real practice in schools, to provide experience of and insights into professional life, and to allow students to attempt their own teaching in example teaching situation as well as to analyse learning processes and lessons as part of their own research.
School-based study takes place in two placements in schools, each accompanied by preparatory and retrospective seminars. One of these placements usually takes place before students' third semester, or before the fourth for L3 students.
One placement consist of at least five weeks and 100 classroom hours in a school, usually during the lecture-free period and in coordination with a preparatory seminar and a retrospective analysis seminar. One placement can be arranged to take place during the whole semester but must correspond to at least a five-week placement in terms of classroom hours.
During the school placement, each student is guided by two mentors, one from the university and one from among the staff of either the host school or the teacher-training college.
During a five-week placement, students attend their host institution on every school day of those five weeks, with at least 20 class hours per week. This amount to a total of 100 hours. Over and above this, they must expect to give time for such events as meetings, parents' evenings, staff meetings, sports days and school functions.
The 100 hours of a school placement are taken up with around 80 hours of observing lesson and around 20 hours of teaching practice. Students should also not concentrate solely on lessons in their main subject; they should at least observe lessons in their second and even third subjects as well, also teaching where possible.
All students are assigned a teacher to be their mentor, accompanying them throughout the placement, providing privileged access to the school and to classes, helping them to draw up a timetable and providing any other support required. The university-based mentor will usually visit students twice to observe their lessons, run at least three seminars to accompany the placement, during which their students can air any questions or problems they may have, and provide any help or advice their students need. One or both mentors may even have been part of the preparatory seminar, and dedicated students will also have visited their host schools before the beginning of their placement.
Students registered to undertake a school placement are divided into groups of around 12, each of which is assigned a placement coordinator. Placement coordinators can be university teachers, research students or guest teachers.

The advantages of this form of placement are manifold:

  • it gives students the opportunity to experience teaching in practice under supervision and guidance on two differents occasions well separated in terms of time from each other as well as from the beginning and end of the degree programme;
  • the small size of seminar groups in preparation and retrospective analysis enables intensive, task-based and study-based work;
  • the timing of the placement during the university's lecture-free period means that university-based placement coordinators can more easily accompany their students without this clashing with their own teaching obligations;
  • the host schools can best accomodate the high number of students in blocks of five weeks.

Particularly the small size of student groups cannot be over-estimated as an advantage, especially given what high numbers of students often need to be accomodated on teacher-training programmes. The small groups not only make for a pleasant working situation but also allow students far more intense preparation and guidance as well as allowing their teachers to give them more specific support, evaluate their abilities more reliably, observe their work more closely and therefore give them more useful feedback.

The distribution of students from the preparation groups to the host schools is guided by the following criteria:

  • students' own geographical preferences and school preferences as well as their regions of origin;
  • their placement coordinator's preferred region (particularly wjen they are guest teachers) and preferred schools (where they have already developed cooperative relationships for the running of student placements);
  • the principle of sending students in groups of two or four from the same preparation seminar to the same school wherever possible;
  • how many students a school can reasonably be expected to accomodate (2-4 in primary schools and special-needs schools, 4-6 in lower secondary schools - Realschulen and Hauptschulen - 6-8 in comprehensive schools and 8-16 in very large comprehensives or grammar schools);
  • schools' wishes to take or not to take particular students;
  • placement coordinators' wishes for their various schools to be within reasonable reach of each other for ease of travel;
  • the principle of spreading the load of student placements evenly amongst host schools in the medium to long term.

Giessen University's host schools are located in the administrative districts of Giessen, Lahn-Dill, Limburg-Weilburg, Wetterau, Vogelsberg and Fulda. Placements are only undertaken outwith this area in exceptional cases, such as special-needs schools and placements abroad.

It should finally be noted that the distribution of placements cannot accomodate all wishes; students often have to make do with other schools, towns or even regions than those they request. The combination of large numbers of teacher-training students at JLU and the relatively small number of schools in the Giessen area means that students are frequently assigned host schools at some distance from their university town. The composition of preparation groups must prioritise the best possible supervision and guidance for students, so their wish to do their placement close to the home town, for instance, must take second place. The current situation does require students to be quite flexible. Placements need to be seen as full-time jobs anyway; students must prepare themselves for the fact that they will have very little time for other jobs, their families and their pastimes.

Every student must register personally for school-based study at the beginning of the previous semester. Registration is advertised on the notice boards of all departments involved in teacher training. All students must register via Stud.IP in the first and second week of the semester. Any questions about school placements can also be brought to the department during its office hours from Tuesday to Thursday from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Centre for Interdisciplinary Learning and Counselling (Zentrum für Lehrerbildung (ZfL))
Department of School-based Study (Referat Schulpraktische Studien)
Karl-Glöckner-Str. 5A (right-hand entrance, 1st floor above the ProMarkt)
Rooms: 119-125
Phone: 0641 / 98 442 441