OECD Education Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies drawing on the work of the OECD Directorate for Education. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language (English or French) with a short summary available in the other.

English, French

Early Career Teachers

Pioneers Triggering Innovation or Compliant Professionals?

New teachers entering the profession are said to bring with them enthusiasm, idealism and recent training – a promising combination for innovative teaching. However, these early career teachers are also commonly portrayed as professionals facing exceptional challenges, with fragile identities who leave the career in high proportions. Can these new teachers help schools to innovate while trying to perform as effective teachers during their initial years? This paper argues that the difficulties most early career teachers encounter, which have largely remained unchanged over the last 50 years, are embedded characteristics of the teaching profession. Further, it discusses the importance of the first five years of the teacher career in acquiring critical professional skills, and highlights the importance of context over experience per se. The paper concludes by making the case that these first five years could work as a residency for early career teachers – similar to that of medical training – where they could receive support to experiment in sheltered environments. This professional residency might represent a policy milestone in the building of a continuum of teachers’ professional growth and development.


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