What Can Experienced Teachers Learn from Newcomers? Newly Qualified Teachers as a Resource in Schools

February 2012

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 18, No. 1, February 2012, 43–57.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aims to learn more about new teachers’ perceived strengths, and how these contribute to the schools where they are applied.

The participants were 21 newly qualified teachers and five of their mentors.
The study was conducted in 2008 in upper secondary schools in Norway.

Data were collected through open-ended questionnaires– one set for new teachers and one for mentors– and semi-structured interviews based on the same questions.

The findings reveal that new teachers as resources are not used in a positive way in their workplaces, even though more experienced teachers can learn from them.

The beginning teachers in the study regard themselves as competent, which should provide a good starting point for building resilience. They enjoy teaching and relationships with students.
It seems important for new teachers to be recognized as qualified, but at the same time being a newcomer is hard work and there is much to be learned. The authors argue that a successful induction should take both these aspects into account and not only focus on problems and support.

The participants in this study, both the beginning teachers and their mentors, listed areas to which new teachers could contribute. These areas include new ideas/perspectives, enthusiasm and flexibility, digital competence, and understanding and communicating with pupils.

As young people, beginning teachers have current knowledge of their subjects, which they have recently studied. New teachers are likely to know more about youth culture than older teachers, which could facilitate their communication with students. Furthermore, new teachers are familiar with information and communication technology (ICT).
The authors argue that through cooperation, sufficient trust can be built for new teachers to challenge what is taken for granted and contribute their new ideas and current knowledge; conversely, experienced teachers’ tacit knowledge can be shared with newcomers.

The authors conclude that providing new teachers with a good start means nurturing their strengths and creating an environment with a culture of sharing and cooperation with mutual exchange and challenging of ideas and experiences. Both new and experienced teachers benefit from this.
The authors recommend to give new teachers a reasonable amount of work connected to core activities in teaching, and to not only support them, but also acknowledge that they are beneficial to both their colleagues and their students. 

Updated: Apr. 24, 2018