The Teacher Leader KnowledgeBase

Task 2: Identify the Teacher Leader Role


Guideline: Prior to moving forward with a teacher leader model, a district needs to identify the approach or model it wishes to pursue. Doing so defines the road map for moving forward. The direction a district pursues may be determined by initiatives undertaken through the state department of education.

Research Brief: Teacher Leadership

This research brief on teacher leadership was prepared by the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools Department of Professional Learning and Accountability, Office of Program Evaluation. The brief provides an overview of the issues associated with teachers in leadership roles. It may be useful as a tool to introduce the concept to school board members, administrators, and teachers.

Teacher Leader Book Resources

This document provides a list of teacher leader book resources used by the Kansas State Department of Education while developing the Kansas Teacher Leader program. Educators interested in the teacher leader role might find these books useful.

Leadership at the School Level

This link is to the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of Staff Development published by Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council). The theme of this issue is leadership at the school level. This issue provides articles addressing distributive leadership and teacher leaders. Learning Forward members are able to access the articles. Non-members are able to purchase any specific article.


Teachers as Leaders

This link is to the September 2007 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership publication. The articles in this issue addressing teachers as leaders may be useful in defining teacher leader roles.


Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders

This link is to an article in the September 2007 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership. The article suggests ten roles for teacher leaders to contribute to their schools.


The Many Faces of Leadership

This link is to an article by Charlotte Danielson, author of Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice. The article addresses "Why Teacher Leadership?," "Qualities and Skills of Teacher Leaders," "What Do Teacher Leaders Do?," "Conditions that Promote Teacher Leadership," and "The Need for Teacher Leadership." This article may be useful to educators exploring the role of teacher leaders in their schools.


What Does the Research Tell Us About Teacher Leadership?

The September 2005 Research Brief from the former Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement reviews a study on the state of research on teacher leadership. The article summarizes the state of the research as of 2004, identifies school culture characteristics that can impact teacher leadership, offers a model for how teacher leadership fits with school improvement efforts, and lists challenges to the development of teacher leaders.

Element 1: Understand the Teacher Leader Concept

Purpose: A brief from the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality on the role of teacher leadership in education innovation states, "Teacher leadership is the process by which teachers, individually or collectively, formally influence their colleagues, principals, and other members of the school community to improve teaching and learning practices with the goal of increased student learning and achievement." There are different forms of teacher leader roles including "teacher leader," "master teacher," "peer mentor," or "academic coach." Element 1 provides overview information on the approaches to and models of teacher leadership.

Activity 1: Be Aware of Teacher Leader Approaches and Models

Activity 2: Study Organizational Dynamics

Element 2: Prepare to Be a Teacher Leader

Purpose: A teacher aspiring to be a "teacher leader," "master teacher," "peer mentor" or "academic coach" should first investigate the nature of such role, how the role might fit with his or her abilities, and identify the associated educational and certification/licensure requirements of each role. Element 2 provides information to assist a teacher in preparing for a teacher leader role.

Activity 1: Explore Teacher Leader Role

Activity 2: Learn About Teacher Leader Education Programs

Element 3: Recruit Teacher Leaders

Purpose: To recruit teacher leaders effectively, a district needs to have a plan of action. The plan should identify the teacher leader role within the district, define the prerequisites for the role, and reflect applicable state standards or certification or licensure guidelines and an awareness of educational programs providing course work associated with the teacher leader role. Element 3 provides resources to assist the district in developing such a plan.

Activity 1: Determine Teacher Leader Roles

Activity 2: Learn About Teacher Leader Education Programs

Element 4: Act as a Teacher Leader

Purpose: A teacher in a peer leadership role helps colleagues improve their professional practice, supports collaboration and instructional strategies, and encourages professional learning. Fulfilling these roles successfully is the essence of teacher leadership. Element 4 provides resources to assist in becoming an effective teacher leader.

Activity 1: Act as a Peer Mentor/Coach to Improve Professional Practice of Colleagues

Activity 2: Support Collaboration and Instructional Strategies

Activity 3: Advocate for Professional Learning

Element 5: Improve as a Teacher Leader

Purpose: Teachers in leadership roles must attend to their own continuing professional learning to enhance their abilities to support colleagues to improve their instructional capabilities. Teacher leaders could have a dual teaching role, one with their students and the other with their peers. Element 5 provides resources to assist teacher leaders in addressing their professional learning.

Activity 1: Develop Individual Professional Learning Plan