Who are the people behind ITTS? In the following months, each partner will introduce her- or himself and tell the story, how ITTS came to life and also into her or his life.
ITTS is coordinated by Bielefeld University. Is the first idea which comes into your mind that Bielefeld does not exist? Than you might have fallen into the Bielefeld Conspiracy emerging from the pioneer times of internet. Finally, in 2019, a huge contest brought the official proof of what we residents always knew – that, yes, indeed: Bielefeld exists! It is located in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, along the Teutoburg Forest. For a long time, Bielefeld was the centre of the linen and textile industry and a major engineering location. Today, however, it is known beyond the region for its local football club Arminia Bielefeld (in the - so far - 1. Bundesliga), for pudding and is further home to around 25.000 students, who study at Bielefeld University.
The University, founded in 1969, is characterized by its top-level research and innovative teaching concepts as well as by its open communication culture and lived interdisciplinarity. It offers a differentiated range of disciplines in the humanities, natural sciences, technology, medicine and teacher training education. All 5500 teacher-training students are accompanied throughout their studies at Bielefeld University by the BiSEd- the Bielefeld School of Education. It is a central academic institution that coordinates and develops research-oriented and innovative teacher education, working together with faculties, schools and links all actors involved in teacher education. Our working fields include for example also organizing school internships, research and evaluation, capacity building and internationalization- where ITTS is located. Considering the multicultural and heterogeneous nature of classrooms, we think it is becoming increasingly important for those to become teachers to gather intercultural and international experience during their time at university, but also to support international teachers coming to Germany, who want to work in their profession in German schools.
In the course of the large immigration of people forced to flee because of war and lack of prospects, the BiSEd started Lehrkräfte Plus in 2017, one of the pioneering re-qualification programs for teachers with a refugee background in Germany. The one year full time qualification program prepares international teachers from Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and many other countries to re-start in their profession as teachers in Germany. The system change into the little flexible German system is very ambitious, because of its two to three obligatory subject-specificity and the language barrier. Nevertheless, the first 75 alumni have successfully completed the program, many of them are already working at school and stating: “A dream has become true”.
But not only in Germany international teachers face problems when re-entering new school systems. Therefore, we were very happy when our Belgium colleagues Oliver and Katrijn approached us with the idea of sharing experiences and strategies. From this contact the idea evolved to start a project with partners in seven European countries - and with the support of the European Union the project International Teachers for Tomorrow’s School (ITTS) was born.