OECD data from 2018 demonstrates that “while novice teachers represent 22% of the teacher population on average across OECD countries, a higher share of them work in challenging school environments, such as schools with a higher number of migrant students and/or students from low income homes”. The combination of a challenging school environment and lack of experience calls for an adaptive mentoring system that effectively supports and prepares novice teachers on-the-job and equips them to address the needs of their students. Investing in novice teachers and empowering their professional development contributes to continuous motivation and retention in the profession of teachers serving the most vulnerable and disadvantaged students.
There is sufficient evidence that effective mentoring goes a long way towards providing the support teachers need, especially at the outset of their careers as the Mathew Kraft et al article demonstrates. The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey, which defines mentoring as a “support structure in schools where more experienced teachers or coaches are appointed to support new colleagues or prospective teachers” documents that teachers who took part in some kind of induction activity tend to “feel more confident in their teaching abilities and more satisfied with their job.” The report also points out that “working conditions, support, and early professional development that novice teachers experience in their first years are important elements in helping them to confirm their career choice and remain in the teaching profession.” An overarching conclusion of the survey is that mentoring has “a positive influence on the commitment from and the retention of teachers, classroom teaching practices and student achievement”.
At EU policy level, the value of mentoring novice teachers has been acknowledged and related action at EU Member States called for over the past years. However, access to adaptive mentorship remains rare for novice teachers in Europe. In this context, the NEST project offers an opportunity to investigate good practices in supporting novice teachers, incorporate them in a mentoring approach, curriculum and model, implement and evaluate its impact across five Member States.
OECD (2018). Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). Available at https://www.oecd.org/education/talis/
Kraft, Matthew A.; Blazar, David; Hogan, Dylan (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. In: Review of Education Research 88, 547-588.
Ingersoll, R. and Strong M. (2011). The Impact of Induction and Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers, Review of Educational Research, Vol. 81/2, pp. 201-233, cited in OECD TALIS 2018.
As seen in the 2017 European Council Conclusions on school development and excellent teaching or in the 2017 European Commission Communication on school development and excellent teaching for a great start in life.