Teacher Leader KnowledgeBase

The Teacher Leader KnowledgeBase aims to raise awareness of the teacher leader role at the district level and to support teachers aspiring to the teacher leader role through master's degree-level university programs.

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

Task 1: Identify and Define Teacher Leader Roles within District

Guideline: If a state has designated a formalized teacher leader or master teacher role, the state department of education may have adopted guidelines/standards for teacher leadership. A district implementing such a role needs to define the role and prerequisites at the local level. Useful resources may include model teacher leader standards and applicable state-level teacher leader or master teacher standards. Doing so establishes the district's role parameters and expectations, and informs teachers of the district's intentions for this role. This task provides information on defining the teacher leader role.

Master Teacher Standards and Certification/Licensure Guidelines

This document provides information on five states' master teacher programs. The requirements vary by state. Teachers aspiring to a master teacher role should contact the respective teacher certification agency within their state.

Teacher Leader Standards and Certification/Licensure Guidelines

This document provides information on six states' teacher leader guidelines. The requirements vary by state. Teachers aspiring to a teacher leader role should contact the respective teacher certification agency within their state.

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.

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.

Teacher Leadership

This link to a December 2008 National Association of State Boards of Education Policy Update discusses state considerations associated with teacher leadership.

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.


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