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

Task 2: Assess Personal Leadership Capacity

Guideline: Regardless of whether a teacher aspires to be a teacher leader, the interested teacher should assess his or her personal leadership capacity. Some of the elements of personal leadership capacity include understanding leadership abilities, possessing a level of self-confidence, reacting positively to situations, understanding complex matters, and having influence with peers. This task provides resources to assess personal leadership capacity.

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."

Becoming a Servant Leader: Do You Have What it Takes?

This link is to a resource on servant leadership from the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The document identifies eleven characteristics of servant leadership, along with self-assessment questions to consider.

Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

This article from the MIT Leadership Center presents the view that the capacity for leadership is individual and collective. The author suggests a framework of four leadership capabilites: "sensing, relating, visioning, and inventing." A teacher considering a leadership role may find reflecting on these capabilities useful.

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