Novice Teachers and How They Cope

May, 2014

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 20, No. 2, 189–211, 2014
(Reviewed by the Team Portal)

This article examines how novice teachers cope with their work. The authors compare the ability of novice and experienced teachers to cope with their work, and how this ability is affected by the level of collegial and superior support and collaboration offered.

The authors used a quantitative survey and a qualitative study based on observations combined with semi-structural interviews of teachers and school leaders. The authors also video-filmed the novice teachers during their lessons.

The participants in the survey were 2205 teachers from 111 schools in Norway. Two hundred and eighteen novice teachers participated in the survey, who had less than three years of teaching experience.

The findings reveal that that the novice teachers do not differ greatly from the experienced teachers. However, it was found that important differences exist between the experienced teachers and the novice teachers in terms of their ability to articulate their own needs and shortcomings.

The authors refer to making the transition from one institutional setting (education) to another (work) can be understandably challenging. They argue that one of the most challenging aspects of this transition is that the training that teachers receive in their both time- and scale-limited professional education differs from the complex demands put forward by work. The authors indicate that this transition will be successful when the novice teacher develops into a competent, full-fledged professional over time at school.
Furthermore, the authors have shown that novice and experienced teachers cope differently in some aspects of the workplace and that a difference in self-efficacy and a small, although significant difference in teacher certainty, exist between these two groups of teachers.

The findings show that a climate of collaboration and learning is as important for coping as the level of teaching experience. However, the authors indicate that the shock associated with practical teaching is a phenomenon that can have a lasting impact. Even so, the shock is probably best understood as a transfer shock. They argue that this shock is typically experienced when teachers make the transition from a protected educational setting – where they only are responsible for their own education and well-being – to a school setting, where they also are responsible for the education and well-being of others.

The authors suggest that there is a need that the school leadership takes seriously not only administrative but also professional issues to help novice teachers.
The authors also argue that novice teachers themselves play an important part in their own coping ability. The findings suggest that a lack of professional involvement exists amongst novice teachers. The authors argue that this lack of professional involvement is caused not only by a lack of follow- up of novice teachers but also by the inability of novice teachers to articulate their needs and to interact closely with their colleagues. 

Updated: Jul. 15, 2018