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

Task 3: Design and Deliver Professional Learning Experiences


Guideline: Effective leaders support professional learning for their colleagues. This support may involve designing and delivering opportunities for learning. As noted by Executive Director of Learning Forward Stephanie Hirsch, "Professional development that impacts teaching and learning occurs over a sustained period of time, includes developing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors, and provides intensive support for implementation within the classroom. This form of support includes coaching, peer observation and feedback, principal support for creating conditions for changing practice, and time for collaboration and reflection to assess the effectiveness of the new learning on teaching practices and student learning."

This task provides resources to assist teacher leaders in providing professional learning experiences for their colleagues.

The Professional Teaching and Learning Cycle

This link is to an April 2007 SEDL Letter publication discussing a standards-based approach to professional learning. The article describes a six-phase cycle to guide professional learning. Specifically, it provides an example of designing professional learning for a small group activity such as a professional learning community. Teachers in leadership roles may find this model helpful when designing and delivering professional learning.

Components of Professional Development

This document summarizes the research from Bruce Showers and Shirley Joyce showing the impact on learning awareness and application when professional development is delivered in various ways, such as lecture, modeling, group work, and coaching. Educators designing and delivering professional learning experiences may find this information helpful.


Designing Professional Development That Works

This link is to an article from the May 2000 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership publication. The authors review their research-based study identifying six factors impacting effective professional learning.


Job-Embedded Professional Development

This link is to an issue brief prepared by the former National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, former Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center, and the National Staff Development Council. This issue brief examines job-embedded professional learning in terms of what it is, who is responsible, and how to do it well. Teachers in leadership roles may find this document helpful to understand job-embedded professional learning more fully.


Make Professional Learning a Joyful Experience

This link is to a Learning Forward blog authored by NSDC distinguished senior fellow Hayes Mizell. The article explores the role "joy" plays in the professional learning experience.


Professional Learning for Culturally Responsive Teaching

This link is to an Equity in Action brief from the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University. As noted in its introduction, this brief "encourages the rethinking of current approaches to professional learning," and "provides guidelines for professional learning for culturally responsive teaching." This brief may be useful to teachers in leadership roles in preparing culturally responsive professional learning.


Teacher Professional Learning and Development

This link is to an International Academy of Education publication discussing professional learning. The document offers ten research-based principles associated with teacher professional learning. This document may be useful to teachers in leadership roles designing and delivering professional learning.

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