Harnessing the Power of Teacher Leaders

When administrators and teachers  work together, everyone wins, especially students.  Collaboration between administrators and teachers can help everyone learn, implement, refine and share ideas that improve learning for adults and students. Teacher leaders can serve as linchpins that move systems and structures to a culture of learning that empowers teachers to make the most impact in their unique context.

Characteristics of Teacher Leaders

Teacher leaders can make a powerful impact on their students, school culture and inform education reform in a variety of ways. As environments, resources and tools change to meet the needs of today’s learners, there is a great need for models, support, and coaching to impact learning and teaching in schools. The following six characteristics are some of the ways that teachers lead school learning and innovation.

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As the closest practitioners to students, teachers can provide great insight into the utility of new strategies, structures, and resources. They are uniquely positioned to assess strengths and challenges as the implications for greatest impact are identified. Involving teachers as decision makers can help ensure that teachers are not only complying and implementing new strategies, but they are improving teaching and learning.   Teacher leaders can make meaningful change and inspire a culture that emphasizes learning for all. Co-constructing systems to leverage the expertise and skill sets of teacher leaders allows for schools to adapt and personalize new ideas for their unique context.

How Do We Harness the Power of Teacher Leaders?

Of the in-school factors, teachers are the strongest predictor of student achievement. Teacher leaders are instrumental in creating a learning culture and most effective when they lead from the middle. They can influence administrative decisions as they implement and refine new strategies and ideas to support students in their unique context.

Innovation flourishes when teachers are guided by a common vision, provided continuous opportunities to collaborate on teaching practices, learn, and practice new methods. Transformational leaders create systems to embed this work into the school day and facilitate teachers in the same content area in continuous planning, analyzing and reflecting on student learning through small collaborative learning communities.

To leverage the power of teacher leachers in school and district reform efforts, administrators can ensure they are creating opportunities, resources and support to ensure teacher leaders can make the most impact teacher retention and effectiveness.

  • Align pathways and support provided to develop skills, knowledge and dispositions of teacher leaders
  • Create leadership opportunities at district and school level that build confidence
  • Cultivate partnerships between administrators and teachers so teacher voice is informing school policies and practices
  • Create opportunities for teacher leaders to co-design and co- facilitate the professional learning 
  • Sanction regular time for teachers to collaborate with their peers
  • Organize opportunities to connect, share  and elevate work of teacher leaders

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