Mentors, trainers and NEST project partners in each country have discussed project results to wrap up the first year of experiment implementation

“Our common purpose is children’s wellbeing, and it makes our efforts worthwhile” – Said the NEST mentors in Bulgaria in a letter to their mentees.

In Summer 2022, each of the participating countries in the Novice Educator Support and Training (NEST) project organized in-person and online meetings to close the first year of the experiment, share reflections, and build excitement for the project’s second year.

During the events, project managers from the Teach For All network presented the results achieved so far and outlined the year ahead. Data collected by researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the project’s evaluators, shows that the mentorship skills of mentors have improved during NEST’s first year. The majority of the mentors agree or strongly agree that the training has equipped them to independently support novice teachers. In addition, as a result of the training, the majority of mentors feel more confident in their professional role, which has led to teachers having increased their trust in mentors. “We really value the different techniques we learnt through NEST, the peer reflection and supervision was especially helpful,” shared a participant in the Austrian pilot.

 “We have worked with over 1300 teachers across five countries and shared challenges and solutions, but most importantly, we are building a supportive community,’ said the NEST coordinator, Neli Koleva, Teach For Bulgaria’s Chief Officer of Public Programs. “None of us have all the answers, there never are ready-made solutions in supporting novice teachers, so investing in an active professional learning community is key.” 

In the coming year, mentors will continue their work with three new novice teachers each, while receiving additional support from the trainers. Increasing teachers’ engagement in the mentorship process and strengthening the trust with their mentees are some of the key challenges for mentors during this second year of NEST.

“Up to 50% of novice teachers will leave the profession within two years. You will not be able to  prevent all of them from quitting, but for those people you worked with during the year, your support probably means everything,” said Koleva.

The NEST project, which was launched in March 2021, explores the question of what an effective programme for novice teachers and their mentors should look like. Key stakeholders for education in Europe have come together to find an answer. The main goal is to demonstrate that a training program for mentors is an effective solution to support novice teachers, and ultimately influence national policies to enhance education systems.

Overall, 450+ mentors from 39 regions are being trained across the EU through the NEST project. Project partners include Ministries of Education, educational expertise unions, Teach For All network partners in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain and a university.