The Teacher Leader KnowledgeBase

Task 3: Contrast Teacher Leader and School Leadership Roles


Guideline: Teacher leader and school leadership roles are complimentary in nature. Teacher leadership is peer oriented, while school leadership is "chain-of-command" oriented. 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. As a district and its schools develop teacher leader roles, they need to be cognizant of these differences.

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.

Successful School Leadership - A View from the Classroom

Published by the Teachers Network Leadership Institute, this publication examines leadership roles for the school principal and teacher leaders. Though focused on New York City Public Schools, the general content may be of interest to educators associated with other school systems.


Teacher Leaders: The Backbone of Sustained Improvement

This link is to the December 2005 newsletter issue of the former Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. This article reviews the role teacher leaders play in sustaining school improvement.


What Does Leadership Capacity Really Mean?

This article from the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of Staff Development published by the former National Staff Development Council (now known as Learning Forward) explores leadership at the school level. The author reviews terminology associated with leadership capacity, identifies three types of leadership capacity within schools, and explores six factors impacting leadership capacity. This article may be useful to districts and schools contemplating new teacher leader roles and how they would fit with a school's leadership capacity.

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