The overall purpose of NEST is to support novice teachers in disadvantaged schools through an underpinning adaptive mentoring model. However, what does adaptive mentoring really mean? The idea behind the concept of adaptive mentoring is that different teachers in different contexts need different types of support. With NEST, this means that the mentoring model is adapted to each education system, considering novice teachers’ individual contexts, and addressing their specific needs. 

To ensure that the NEST project leads to adaptive mentoring, three concepts of adaptiveness are incorporated into the project. First, we prioritize the recruitment of mentors with potential to be adaptive. To this end, a set of selection criteria was defined, which includes, amongst other traits, openness to self-reflection, empathy and respectfulness.

We also focus on the mentoring approach with mentees. We learnt from Crasborn et al. (2008) that training can lead mentors to increase the variety of mentoring methods they are using. Therefore, during the mentor training, we created spaces where mentors could reflect on their own personalities and the school contexts. With this exercise, we equipped mentors with knowledge to choose the most suitable mentoring approach, depending on the needs and personalities of their mentees.

Lastly, there’s evidence that it is especially important to improve professional development of teachers at disadvantaged schools, since this could enhance both teacher quality and retention. Thus, the third concept of adaptiveness in the NEST mentor training focuses on supporting mentors in recognising the challenges that are specific to the schools where they are mentoring, and to adapt their mentoring accordingly.

More information on the NEST adaptive mentoring model can be found on the NEST website under Resources.

van Ginkel, Gisbert; Oolbekkink, Helma; Meijer, Paulien C.; Verloop, Nico (2016): Adapting mentoring to individual differences in novice teacher learning: the mentor’s viewpoint. In Teachers and Teaching 22 (2), pp. 198–218. DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2015.1055438. 

Crasborn, Frank; Hennissen, Paul; Brouwer, Niels; Korthagen, Fred; Bergen, Theo (2008): Promoting versatility in mentor teachers’ use of supervisory skills. In Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (3), pp. 499–514. DOI: 10.1016/j.tate.2007.05.001.

Hall, Caroline; Lundin, Martin; Sibbmark, Kristina (2020): Strengthening Teachers in Disadvantaged Schools: Evidence from an Intervention in Sweden’s Poorest City Districts. In Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, pp. 1–17. DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2020.1788154.