Induction of Beginning Teachers in Urban Environments: An Exploration of the Support Structure and Culture for Beginning Teachers at Primary Schools Needed to Improve Retention of Primary School Teachers

Aug. 01, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 42, p. 23-33. (August, 2014)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The aim of this study was to gain insight into ways to improve the retention of beginning urban teachers.
This study investigated the support structure and support culture of 11 urban primary schools.

The participants were eight beginning teachers and 11 principals from 11 urban primary schools in the Netherlands.
Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews.


This article focused on characteristics of the support structure and support culture at schools where beginning teachers judged the support they received positively or negatively.
The findings revealed that the principals of the schools were willing to invest in the professional development of the teachers.
For example, all coaches at the schools where teachers judged the support positively received special training to learn how to support novices and had enough time for coaching. Furthermore, at the schools where teachers judged the support positively, the rules and agreements about the way of working at the school were well documented, so teachers knew what they could expect.
Furthermore, external support could be hired if the teachers needed it.

In contrast, at schools where teachers judged the support negatively, the rules and agreements were not clearly formulated and documented, and external guidance was only possible when teachers already had issues, so problems were not prevented.
Another remarkable difference was that the teachers who judged the support negatively indicated that there was no structural support at their school and little initiative for support from the school management or from colleagues, whereas at schools where teachers judged support positively, the support was more systematically arranged and colleagues offered help more often.

Although there were differences in the support structure of the schools, the main difference between the schools appeared to be their support culture.
At schools where teachers judged the support positively, the authors found characteristics of an integrated professional culture.
Teachers experienced an open culture in which they could easily approach their colleagues. The support culture at these schools consisted of collaboration between novice and more experienced teachers, encouragement of beginning teachers’ development, and involved colleagues who took the novices seriously and who were open to discussing their experiences with beginning teachers.
At schools where teachers judged about the support they received negatively, the culture was less open than at the other schools.
Novice teachers experienced difficulties in approaching their colleagues and felt that they were not taken seriously by their more experienced colleagues.
Another characteristic of the schools where teachers judged the guidance negatively is that teachers reported that when they wanted to develop themselves, they felt criticised by colleagues.

In conclusion, this study showed that in schools where teachers judged the support practice positively, support was focused on the specific urban challenges that the teachers experienced more than it was in the schools where teachers judged support negatively.
An important finding of this study is that a good support culture is important for beginning teachers.
This study also underlines the value of a good support culture, which has a large influence on how teachers judged the support practice at their school.
Finally, the findings can contribute to the knowledge of teachers educators, educational support services, schools, school boards, and researchers on the organisation of valuable support practices for novice urban teachers.

Updated: Jun. 28, 2015