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

Task 1: Apply Strategies of Adult Learning

Guideline: As noted at a Rochester Institute of Technology website, adult learners' leading characteristics include being problem-centered, results-oriented, and self-directed; questioning; seeking education to meet their needs; and looking for learning that is timely and appropriate. Adults approach learning differently than young people. A teacher in a leadership role needs to be aware of these differences and implement appropriate strategies for adult learning. This task provides resources to assist in gaining such awareness.

Characteristics of Adult Learners

This Rochester Institute of Technology website provides a comparison of the learning charactersitics of adult and youth learners. The content also suggests teaching strategies for adult learners, teaching styles, thinking styles, and learning styles. While intended for instructors of online courses, the content may be helpful to teachers in a leadership role as they interact with their colleagues.

Engaging Learners in Learning: A Checklist for Face-to-Face Settings

This link is to an article prepared by Professor and Distance Education/Teaching-Learning Specialist Joan Cybela from the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Madison. The article offers suggested approaches to use to engage adult learners.


As noted at its website, ASCD "is an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner."

Andragogy: Adult Learning Theory

This link is to a summary of Malcolm Knowles' theory of andragogy, a learning theory focused on the needs of adults.

Learning Forward

This link is to the website of Learning Forward, the former National Staff Development Council. The website provides resources for educators engaged in professional learning.

Learning Strategies

This link is to an article from the American Society for Training & Development's Learning Circuits publication. The article discusses techniques adults use in learning.

The Leading Teacher

The Leading Teacher is a Learning Forward publication devoted to teachers fulfilling a coaching role with fellow teachers.

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