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Michelle Helms-Lorenz: what kind of support do beginning teachers need to thrive in the teaching profession?

What kind of support do beginning teachers need to thrive in the teaching profession?

There are three professional needs that require nourishment during the first years of a teacher’s career: they need to grow in competence, in connectedness (to colleagues and students) and in autonomy. To achieve these goals causes of stress need to be reduced, success experiences need to be enhanced, time and opportunities need to be created for meaningful interaction with colleagues and students and opportunities to enable deliberate practice of teaching skills in an efficient way need to be organized. In order to gain more autonomy in professional development teachers should be empowered with knowledge and skills to rise to the challenges involved in developing teaching skills, connectedness and autonomy.

Michelle Helms-Lorenz

These challenges should not be underestimated. Currently, induction arrangements have and are being developed in schools in The Netherlands together with teacher education institutes aiming to reduce early career teacher attrition and to support the acceleration of teaching skill development. These arrangements provide measures for workload reduction, provide training in using reliable and valid measurement instruments for the assessment of teaching skills, provide guidelines for meaningful feedback and coaching in the zone of proximal development, provide guidelines for feedback and assistance in lesson preparations, opportunities to reflect on lessons and to determine goals for future lessons, to work towards personal goals, providing transparent assessment procedures and criteria for tenure, opportunities to connect with teacher teams, to learn about school rules and values, to formally and informally interact with peers, to engage in tailored workshops to meet professional developmental needs etc.

In secondary schools these arrangements have been proven to be effective. We revealed that most of the arrangement elements reduce stress causes and ultimately attrition. Coaching using validated instruments and providing clear performance criteria enhances skill development. At the same time workload reduction slows down skill-development while enhancing wellbeing. Additionally, it has become clear in our research that some skills develop more easily than others. To support teachers in the development of complex skills and to enhance autonomous teacher professional development without reducing teacher well-being needs more effort, time and support expertise, which still needs to be developed further.

M. (Michelle) Helms-Lorenz, Dr
First name
Interim Director, associate professor, ius promovendi
Research interest include teaching skillfulness and wellbeing of beginning and pre-service teachers and effective interventions to promote professional development  and retention. In addition, she is driven by curiosity towards individual and management decision-making processes.
Last modified:03 September 2019 12.54 p.m.
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