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

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

Task 1: Identify Areas for Professional Growth


Guideline: Teachers in leadership roles assist their colleagues with identifying their professional learning needs. When doing so, they should also assess their own learning needs. The professional learning content should be based on data indicating the needs identified in the district for training. This task provides resources to identify areas for professional growth.

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Kansas Professional Development Guidelines

This link is to the Kansas Professional Development Guidelines. Though intended for Kansas teachers, its general content may be useful to teachers in other states when identifying areas for professional growth.


Maryland Teacher Professional Development Planning Guide

This link is to the Maryland Teacher Professional Development Planning Guide. Though intended for Maryland teachers, the guide's content may be useful to teachers in leadership roles in other states as they address professional learning needs.


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 Model Standards

This link is to the teacher leader model standards developed by the Teacher Leader Exploratory Consortium.


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 research leads to learning, action

This article from Learning Forward offers practical tips on applying action research concepts to identify teacher learning needs.