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

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

Task 2: Identify Financial Resources for Professional Learning

Guideline: District staff members, principals, and teachers in leadership roles should be aware of financial resources available to support professional learning. Government funds may be available for school education programs and their associated requirements through federal and state resources. Additionally, private grants may be available. District staff members, principals, and teachers in leadership roles should be aware of these possibilities and encourage staff members to explore possible grants in their programmatic planning. This task provides resources to identify potential financial resources.

Federal Education Funding Opportunities

This link is to U.S. Department of Education information about federal grant opportunities.

Glossary of Philanthropy-related Terms

This link to the Foundation Center website provides a glossary of philanthropy-related terminology.


This link to the K12Grants.org website provides a list of grants available to schools organized by category, including grants from the federal and state levels.

NEA Foundation - Grants to Educators

This link is to information about the NEA Foundation's grants to educators. As noted at the NEA website, grants are available to individual educators to fund "high-quality professional development experiences" or to groups for "collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment."

Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center

This link is to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's Tax Benefits for Education Information Center.

The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase

This KnowledgeBase provides resources to help districts, schools, and others write a grant application with the greatest possible chance of success.

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