Novice teachers’ need for support and induction is widely recognized, and so is the role of principals in that process.
Accountability-driven reforms in education have compelled principals to increasingly focus on managerial responsibilities, whereas teachers are subjected to external assessment of their professional qualities and their students’ learning outcomes.
This role division can undermine the principals’ readiness for instructional leadership and can affect their perceptions of novice teachers’ needs, knowledge, skills, and attitudes, which in turn potentially inhibits adequate support given to novice teachers.
Therefore, it is important to know how principals and novice teachers assess novice teachers’ professional qualities.
In this study, the authors investigated the Estonian preschool principals’ and novice preschool teachers’ assessments of the professional skills of novice teachers.
Fifty-seven principals and 61 first-year teachers responded to a written questionnaire.
They first found that, in almost all aspects, the novice teachers assessed their professional skills higher than did the preschool principals.
Second, they found that when combining the assessments of both groups of respondents, the lowest ratings were given on novice teachers’ skills in working with children with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and with children with special needs.
They discuss relevant implications for early childhood teacher education.