The Teacher Leader KnowledgeBase

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

Task 2: Explore Leadership Styles and Skills


Guideline: The understanding of leadership styles and traits has evolved throughout the 20th century. As noted in an article on leadership styles at Mind Tools.com, the thinking in the 1930’s focused on autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leaders. Currently, leadership styles have expanded to include autocratic, bureaucratic, charismatic, democratic/participative, laissez-faire, people-oriented/relations-oriented, servant leadership, task-oriented, transactional, and transformational. It is also recognized that no single style fits all situations. Effective leadership involves using a range of approaches depending on the situation.

It is important to recognize leadership roles may take on either a formal or informal dimension. Formal leaders are those persons who are fulfilling designated organizational leadership roles with prescribed authority and responsibilities. Informal leaders are persons whose leadership capacities are recognized by others willing to follow them, but they may not have designated organizational leadership authority or responsibilities.

Being aware of leadership qualities, styles, and skills is important to aspiring leaders.

Leadership Assessment Tool Inventory

This link is to a series of leadership assessment tools available through the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. The series of eight assessments addresses different aspects of leadership. As noted at the website, "These exercises assess your ability to apply critical management skills to identify and solve key organizational problems. Scores are automatically calculated and compared to reference distributions of the scores of random samples of managers."

Leadership Characteristics

This link to the Univeristy of Oregon's Holden Leadership Center offers a list of key leadership characteristics.


Leading Gen Y Teachers: Emerging Strategies for School Leaders

This Research and Policy Brief from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders discusses strategies to recruit, retain, and support Gen Y teachers. As districts and schools formulate teachers in leadership roles, this brief may be useful in addressing the interests and needs of Gen Y teachers.


Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees

This link is to a 2005 article in FDU Magazine, published online by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The article, authored by Greg Hammill, former director of intern and student programs, discusses the differences among the four generations of employees currently in the workplace. Though the article's focus is the general business workplace, its concepts might be useful to teachers in leadership roles working with teachers of differing generations.


The Top 10 Leadership Qualities

This link is to an HRWorld article identifying ten character traits of successful leaders. This list may be of interest to teachers aspiring to leadership roles.


Tomorrow's Teacher Leaders: Nurturing a Disposition of Leadership

This article from the Fall 2010 issue of Academic Leadership Journal examines the qualities associated with a disposition of leadership. The authors note, "Teachers with a disposition of leadership exhibit positive self-esteem, feelings of significance, competence, and power, and high self-efficacy. Together, these qualities create a foundation of confidence, motivation, and perseverance necessary for teachers to effectively lead in today’s schools."

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