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 5: Enhance Individual and Group Decision-making

Guideline: Decision making involves collecting data, giving the data context, analyzing it, and forming conclusions about its meaning. The resulting information can be used by individuals or groups to make appropriate decisions about the matter under consideration. Group decision making has the additional dynamic of multiple people participating in the decision process. Teachers in leadership roles understand the dynamics of decision making and help their colleagues enhance their own decision making abilities. This task provides resources to assist teacher leaders in supporting their colleagues.

Creative Thinking Tools - The Six Thinking Hats

Individual group members often have divergent viewpoints. Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats is a system fostering collaboration, increased productivity, creativity, and innovation. The concept enables participants in a discussion to move from the traditional argumentative approach to a collaborative process and fosters a more productive dialog. The document provides an overview of the tool and additional resources about it.

Fist to Five Consensus Activity

The Fist to Five consensus activity is a tool groups can use to reach consensus when making decisions. This link is to a set of instructions for using this tool.

Quality Tools for Teachers

This link to the American Society for Quality website provides quality tools for teachers. Each tool has a tutorial explaining how it can be used in a school setting. Teachers in a leadership role may find these tools useful when working with individual teachers or groups of teachers.

Guidelines for Productive Meetings

This guide from the Team Handbook might assist team members with having productive meetings.

Basic Guidelines to Problem Solving and Decision Making

This Free Management Library article presents a seven step approach to problem solving and decision making. Teachers in leadership roles may find these basic steps helpful working with individual teachers and groups of teachers.

Practicing Listening Skills

This Department of Veterans Affairs website offers suggestions on practicing listening skills. The suggestions may be useful with handling disagreements among school improvement team members.

Group Decision Making

This link is to an article on group decision making authored by Fred Lunenburg of Sam Houston State University. As noted in the article's abstract, it "discuss[es] the importance of developing a culture for group decision making and consider some of the advantages, disadvantages, and effective practices in group decision making." The article was published in the National Forum of Teacher Education Journal.

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