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"We only put out fires": How the teacher shortage reigns in elementary and middle schools


A shortage of teachers has the Ebersberg district under control: primary and secondary schools report precarious conditions that affect the classroom every day.

A shortage of teachers has the Ebersberg district under control: primary and secondary schools report precarious conditions that affect the classroom every day.


– How deep the schools in the Ebersberg district are in the personnel crisis can be demonstrated with a simple statement: The teacher is in front of the class.

This general platitude – including the teachers, of course – is no longer true.

That's what the local representatives of the Bavarian Teachers' Association (BLLV) say.

They report on students who lead entire classes, on curricula that sometimes only exist on paper and on career changers who have to cushion the core lessons.

Through the association, EZ was able to ask around anonymously at the elementary and secondary schools in the district.

A teacher draws the conclusion in the survey: "Regular school life is currently not possible."

Education ministers deny the shortage - teachers' association raises the alarm

For generations of Bavarian Ministers of Education, "teacher shortage" was and is a taboo term.

It doesn't exist because it shouldn't exist.

The base sees it differently, saying there is a lack of staff everywhere.

"I see every day what it means to run a school with a shortage of teachers," says Astrid Jahreseiß.

She is deputy district chairwoman of the BLLV and deputy principal of the elementary school in Poing, Karl-Sittler-Straße.

As a trade unionist, she dares to speak plainly, in contrast to many colleagues in the district, who are afraid of pressure from above if they openly denounce grievances.


Where the shoe pinches the teachers: The BLLV district chairman Knut Schweinsberg, vice district chairman and deputy director Astrid Jahreiß and BLLV vice president Gerd Nitschke in conversation with EZ editor Josef Ametsbichler.

© S. Roßmann

"The work on the children is no longer feasible for the colleagues - and that's actually what it's about," says Jahreiß from practice.

And adds: “We only put out fires and muddle through somehow.” Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, she can only remember a week in which the 23-strong teaching team was complete.

Teachers sick at school - some even hide their pregnancy

When visiting the EZ editorial office, the teacher representatives tell the story: Teachers keep dragging themselves to school when they are sick so as not to let their colleagues down.

There are cases in the district in which teachers concealed their pregnancy in order to make it to the transition despite the associated ban on employment, for example with a fourth grade.

When it comes to the point where there is no longer a teacher for the class, others step in.

BLLV district board member Knut Schweinsberg tries to make a comparison: “If the train driver fails, the train stops.

At our schools, the conductor has to keep going.” This means that remedial teachers, for example, who are actually trained for additional hours and supplementary offers, have to teach core lessons on their behalf.

Or that student teachers stand in front of the class who are not yet legally allowed to give any grades, which in turn has to be approved by a teacher in the background - whether actually or pro forma.

Lateral entrants teach: "We don't have anyone anymore!"

"We don't have anyone anymore," says Gerd Nitschke, BLLV Vice President and Chairman of the local staff council.

In extreme cases, this means that career changers hold the lessons, so-called substitute teachers.

They must have a master’s degree – but this can also be in forestry or ethnology, for example.

Honorable professions, but no trained teachers.

The anonymous voices from the grassroots (

see box below

) convey the picture that the exceptional case at the primary and secondary schools in the district of Ebersberg has long since become a permanent condition.

This is at the expense of the students.

The hours take place differently than in secondary schools, says BLLV Vice Nitschke.

"But we can't be sure whether it's really lessons or just supervision." For example, classes that don't have a teacher would have to be divided up among others again and again.

This throws the syllabus into disarray when the parallel classes aren't exactly on par with the material.

Shortage of teachers in the Ebersberg district: Easter egg hunts and school festivals are cancelled

And: "It's not just about education," says Vice-President Jahreiss.

"The children also need someone to explain life to them." There will be no Easter egg hunts at the Poinger school this year.

Hiking days, class trips, parents' get-togethers, school festivals - everything is on the cross-off list, says BLLV district chairman Schweinsberg: "The nice things that we remember from our school days are gone." Because there is no time for it.

Teachers' staff councilor Nitschke tries hard not to start lamenting: "The nice thing - or madness - is that it still works," he says.

And Vice-Principal Jahreseiß praises her team, teachers, young people and career changers alike, who keep enjoying their job during the crisis.

But the number of students doesn't bode well for middle school, says Nitschke.

Therefore, those who actually wanted to go to elementary schools could flourish that they would have to help out there.

"One saves oneself from vacation to vacation," describes the BLLV man the situation - and pushes the long-term demand of his association that teachers at elementary and middle schools should finally receive the same pay as their colleagues at secondary schools and high schools.

“Child storage”, throwing chairs and a bad conscience: teachers from the Ebersberg district report anonymously here

What happens if a teacher falls ill?

"We have a support teacher.

This has lately almost only represented.

This relieves everyone else, but the urgently needed funding offers are not taking place.”

- “If there are no substitute teachers, the children are divided into the respective grades.

This causes a lot of unrest, some of the planned lesson content cannot be processed.”

- “If a teacher falls ill, the consultation hours and support hours are cancelled.

Due to the additional workload of the teachers and their flexibility, compulsory classes can still take place.

In the long run, however, this affects the health of the teachers.”

How is the teacher shortage affecting school staff?

- “We have many children with behavioral problems, including first graders who scream and throw chairs and young children with actual personality disorders and trauma.

You just can't do it justice anymore.

That is unsatisfactory.”

- "For a few weeks, some timetables will be changed and rewritten, and the teachers will be reassigned in order to ensure that the class is supplied.

This in turn causes unrest in other classes and requires great flexibility on the part of colleagues.”

- "As a rule, lessons cannot be canceled because we can hardly send the students to lunchtime care or after-school care earlier (also overworked due to staff).

So the teaching substitution is left to us: free play in the playground with two classes, insert a film – child storage.”

- “There is a lack of people and resources (hours, time, qualified personnel, etc.).

The needs of the children cannot be met.”

- "Under the current circumstances, everyday duties are already perceived as a burden.

(Parent work, excursions with part-time teachers: inside, parents’ evenings, class celebrations at Christmas, Easter breakfast, etc.).”

How do substitution workers (“lateral entrants”) help?

- "We were fortunate to (...) have many interns who were able to relieve the burden of the double leadership."

- "Through the hours of substitute workers, the core lessons can be cushioned on three days."

- “Lessons taken over by substitute teachers also mean extra work.

Evidence of achievement must be created together, everyday processes (lessons, work with parents, discipline, student observations, questions...) must be accompanied.”

What is currently bothering you the most?

- "Many sick teachers are plagued by a bad conscience, because they know very well that other colleagues have to catch up on these lessons.

It is therefore often difficult for teachers who are ill to go into rest mode in order to recover.”

- “Primary school teachers have to absorb hours at middle schools and sometimes feel overwhelmed.

In addition, you get stressed more quickly and lose interest in your job as a result.”

- "There are hardly any support hours for all the inclusion children.

Remedial teachers, who are actually only supposed to support individual children, take over the entire lesson when they are ill, although they receive far less salary than an elementary or middle school teacher.”

what would help

- "More appreciation.

My husband and I are both home sick.

I'm lying in bed with a guilty conscience - and he (free enterprise) with a bouquet of flowers from the boss.

And: more staff and smaller classes.”

- "The burden could be reduced by more mobile teachers, more trained educators, reducing the pressure on the curriculum (relaxing the content a bit), creating measures that make the profession more attractive again (earnings, training...)."

- "Reduction instead of perfection!"

You can read more news from the Ebersberg region here.

By the way: everything from the region is also available in our regular Ebersberg newsletter. 

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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