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

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

Task 1: Create/Obtain/Identify Time to Participate in Professional Learning Opportunities


Guideline: Working with the school principal, teachers in leadership roles might want to advocate for time for relevant professional learning activities aimed to enhance the instructional capabilities of their colleagues. This task provides resources to assist teacher leaders in doing so.

Breakfast Club

Chronicled by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, the Breakfast Club concept developed at the Adams School in Chicago illustrates one approach to making time for professional development.


Finding Time for Collaboration

This ASCD article explores ways to make time for collaboration among teachers.


Finding Time for Staff Training and Collaboration

This document identifies a variety of ideas districts and schools have used to find time for professional learning and collaboration.

How Teachers Learn: Learning with Blogs and Wikis

This link is to an article from the February 2009 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership publication. In this article, author Bill Ferriter, a 6th grade science and social studies teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Senior Fellow in the Teacher Leaders Network, explores how teaches can use blogs and wikis to support their professional learning.


Professional Learning Communities at School

Professional learning communities offer teachers a way to interact and collaborate with their colleagues on instructional issues. This North Carolina Department of Public Instruction resource offers an overview of professional learning communities and explores what they are, why they are important, and how they are created.


Professional Learning Communities: What Are They And Why Are They Important?

This SEDL website provides an overview of professional learning communities.

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