As schools and districts stretch to meet higher standards for student learning, more administrators recognize the vital role of teacher-leaders. When teacher-leaders are engaged in school improvement, their principals will want to ensure their success. Excellent teachers who take on more responsibility need and deserve training that prepares them to lead, organize, and develop their peers.
Whether teacher-leaders have formal accountability for peers’ student outcomes, informal coaching authority, or other formal roles leading peers, they need support in the transition from leading their own classrooms to leading adult peers. Teacher-leaders may also benefit from an enhanced understanding of the elements of excellent instruction. Not only can this further improve their own teaching practice, teacher-leaders can gain a better grasp of how to share the elements of strong instruction more effectively with other teachers.
National training programs are emerging to support teacher-leaders in varying roles, including those who lead job–embedded professional learning. In the programs described here, the focus is on team leadership, and the curricula address such issues as:
- Empowering team teachers to share what works
- Leading collaborative problem-solving
- Leading team meetings effectively and efficiently, and
- Tailoring one’s leadership style to meet the team teachers’ needs.
Future research should focus on how to improve the design of teacher-leader training, and how to match training to varying teacher-leader roles.
The following list, compiled in spring 2014, offers links to more information about several well-regarded national teacher-leader training programs:
- National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education
- National State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY)
- Learning Forward: The Professional Learning Association Academy
- Teach Plus T3 and C2
- Teacher Leadership Initiative
- Center for Teacher Leadership: Teacher Leader Training
- Leading Educators
- New Leaders: Emerging Leaders
- Reading Recovery: Teacher Leader Training
- TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement
- KIPP School Leadership Programs: Teacher Leader
- New York City Department of Education: Teacher Leadership Programs
We expect more training programs to emerge as teacher-leadership becomes more common. The list below includes information, where available, on the:
- Focus of the training
- Time commitment and span of time
- Cost to district (or funding sources, where available; cost of program not provided where funding is covered)
- Selection process
- Method of program delivery
Examples of Teacher-Leader Training Programs
National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education
The National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) training is designed to enable experienced, high-performing teacher-leaders to deepen and develop their classroom practice and to equip them with leadership skills to lead and support other teachers.
- The two-year program offers the option of going through its 23 days of programming in either a summer residency or a school-year program that includes extended weekends. Both require participants to develop and implement a year-long inquiry project focused on the specific needs of their schools.
- A hallmark of the program is that participants spend a majority of time learning through the case study method, focusing on real-world problems of practice.
- Selected by their principals and superintendents, participants must come from their districts’ top 5 percent, have three to eight years of experience, and already hold formal or informal leadership roles.
- Funding comes from the LEA, at approximately $10,000 per teacher.
National State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY): Teacher Leader Professional Learning Modules
The National Network of State Teachers of the Year provides professional learning modules for teacher-leaders based on the seven domains of the Teacher Leader Model Standards. All module presenters are members of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Modules include the following content:
- Adult Learning and Leadership
- Research and Data to Improve Practice
- Professional Learning
- Organizational Improvement through Assessment Design
Learning Forward: The Professional Learning Association Academy
The Learning Forward Academy is designed to empower teacher-leaders to improve their instructional practice and become professional learning subject-matter experts so they can lead change in others.
- Using inquiry and problem-based learning strategies, participants in the two-and-a-half-year program go through 12 in-person, team-based learning days, two annual conferences, and ongoing virtual collaboration with other participants.
- They receive ongoing support from an experienced coach who went through the academy.
- The program costs $3,650, with scholarships available.
- Participants are chosen through an online application and receive scholarships through scoring on a published rubric.
Teach Plus T3 and C2
The Teach Plus teacher-designed T3 (Turnaround Teacher Teams) Initiative recruits, develops, and supports highly effective, experienced teachers to lead teams in turnaround efforts in low-performing schools with which Teach Plus forms partnerships.
- Teach Plus, which funds T3 primarily through district contracts and state and federal grants, expects T3 teacher-leaders to make a three-year commitment to the program.
- Teachers are selected by Teach Plus and principals and district staff following a four-stage selection process that includes a teaching demonstration; interview day to assess a candidate’s leadership and teamwork skills and experience in data analysis; and an interview with a principal. Applicants must have at least three years of successful teaching in an urban school.
- T3 teacher-leaders serve as full-time classroom teachers while also leading teams of teachers, working to enhance instruction and improve student academic outcomes.
- Ongoing professional learning includes: a three-day intensive summer training followed by weekly meetings with a school-based T3 coach; regular teacher-leader cohort meetings and professional learning for teacher-leaders across the district or region; an annual conference; participation in an online collaboration platform.
The C2 Initiative offers a series of teacher-led training sessions focused on the Common Core State Standards, to ensure a smooth transition to the new standards.
- C2 teacher-leaders commit to leading a five-week course of about 15 hours of in-person inquiry and collaboration, as well as assignments before the in-person sessions.
- C2 is funded through partnerships with districts, unions, and other nonprofits.
- C2 has a three-stage selection process: a written application, performance task, and group and individual interviews. Applicants must be highly effective teachers with proficiency in the content of their course, along with having the skills and competencies needed to lead professional learning for teachers.
Teacher Leadership Initiative
A joint initiative begun in spring 2014 by the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBTPS), the Teacher Leadership Initiative is an effort to recruit, prepare, and support teachers to lead a transformed teaching profession.
- The initiative’s goals are to create accomplished-level teacher-leader standards, develop training and support to meet those standards, and activate at least 1,000 teachers to be leaders for their profession by 2017.
- Competencies for teacher leadership will be developed that may be the foundation for the standards.
- 200 teachers will be chosen for an initial pilot ending with a field-based leadership experience in instructional, policy, or union leadership.
- It focuses on new and accomplished teachers who have not had leadership experience.
- The initiative will include partners in NEA affiliates, education foundations, and district or state agencies.
Center for Teacher Leadership: Teacher Leader Training
The Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University uses conferences designed to give teacher-leaders the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that they will need to work effectively with adults.
- Each two-day conference, open to anyone, costs $415.
- In addition to offering workshops on communication skills, team-building, and time management, the program also offers role-specific training focused on instructional mentoring, observing and conferencing, and data-driven coaching.
Leading Educators partners with schools and districts to maximize the leadership development of early- to mid-career teachers to bolster the talent pipeline.
- It focuses on identifying and training strong potential teacher-leaders to increase student achievement and develop the skills and sustainability of teachers on their teams.
- Training emphasizes building a teacher’s ability to coach and provide feedback to other teachers.
- Teachers apply for the program with a principal’s endorsement; they must have two or more years of teaching experience and show strong leadership potential or already serve as a teacher-leader, such as grade-level or department chairs.
- The two-year fellowship includes about 35 days of programming, such as an annual trip, two weeklong summer sessions, monthly professional learning sessions, and problem-solving sessions, in-school coaching, and small-group collaborative sessions.
New Leaders: Emerging Leaders
The Emerging Leaders Program is designed to strengthen the leadership skills of talented teachers, coaches, and assistant principals in partner districts and charter management organizations.
- Successful teachers aiming to become a principal are selected based on their skills in personal leadership, systems and operations, and an ability to lead school culture.
- The one-year training program includes a summer induction session, monthly national webinars, monthly local in-person sessions, several applied learning assignments, and ongoing feedback sessions with an Emerging Leader trainer.
- If participants live in one of New Leaders program cities, the Emerging Leaders Program is the primary pathway into the Aspiring Principals Program.
- Participant costs are covered by public, foundation, individual, and corporate partners as long as Emerging Leaders residents serve for six years or more in their positions.
Reading Recovery: Teacher Leader Training
National Louis University offers this program specifically to train teachers to lead Reading Recovery programs in their schools.
- The two-year, full-time program prepares teacher-leaders to work with students, train teachers, provide continuing professional development and support for teachers, monitor the progress of students, and support the development of school teams.
- Coursework consists of field work, weekly classes and seminars, annual conferences, a teacher-leader summer institute, observed teaching, observed leadership, and collaboration on implementation of a reading program.
- Schools nominate participants, who are selected by the university and the school district.
- The district bears the $23,265 cost per participant.
TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement
TAP allows teachers to pursue a variety of leadership positions throughout their careers, including mentor and master teacher.
- Teachers who have a master’s degree, teach in a TAP school, and have exemplary evidence of teaching achievement over five years are selected through an interview process by school staff.
- TAP provides at least nine days of core training, plus ongoing daylong regional training sessions and analyses of video lessons, to prepare master and mentor teachers to conduct professional growth activities such as demonstrating lessons, team teaching, coaching, giving effective feedback, and conducting workshops.
- Participants also receive ongoing coaching after the initial training.
- Master and mentor teachers take on additional responsibilities and authority, including conducting evaluations, and are required to have a longer work year.
- They are held to a different performance standard and are compensated accordingly; the program is funded through existing district funds and federal funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Teacher Incentive Fund.
KIPP School Leadership Programs: Teacher Leader
Designed exclusively for KIPP teachers in roles such as grade-level chair, department/content chair, or Saturday school coordinator, the KIPP Teacher Leader Program is designed to help teacher-leaders hone their instructional skills while learning new strategies to bring out the best in their colleagues.
- Participants in the Teacher Leader Program focus on developing the leadership competencies and behaviors of the KIPP School Leadership Competency Model, including developing an action plan, becoming a more effective team leader, leading effective meetings, and providing effective feedback to teachers.
- KIPP schools or regions nominate participants who have two or more years of teaching experience; these nominees are assessed based on their leadership competencies.
- The program, whose expenses are covered by the KIPP school or region and supplemented through any available federal i3 (Investing in Innovation) funds, lasts one year, including a three-day orientation, two leadership development retreats throughout the year, and individualized coaching.
- Participants receive support after the program ends through ongoing coaching by a school leader focused on the goals in each teacher-leader’s individualized leadership plan.
New York City Department of Education: Teacher Leadership Programs
New York City offers a variety of opportunities for teachers interested in teacher leadership for specific specific instructional hurdles (such as the implementation of the Common Core standards) or more general roles such as mentors or lead teachers.
- The NYC Lead Teacher program focuses on coaching, facilitation, collaboration, and leadership skills. Lead Teacher participants receive a pay supplement of $10,710.
- The New Leaders: Emerging Leaders Program (see more detail above) focuses on adult leadership, instructional leadership, building a culture of learning, and developing feedback and self-reflection.
- The New Teacher Mentoring program focuses on instructional coaching, developing trusting relationships, and connecting teachers with community resources.
- The Teacher Leadership Program trains teacher-leaders in peer coaching and instructional leadership (such as goal-setting and problem-solving). In this program, teacher-leaders develop a portfolio demonstrating what they have learned and how it applies to their schools. Teacher Leadership Program participants are paid on a per-session rate.
- Teachers apply for the lead teacher and mentor positions and are selected based on student achievement and a supervisor’s recommendation; school teams apply for the Teacher Leadership Program.
- The programming varies over a year from 11 three-hour after-school sessions for the Teacher Leadership Program to 12 hours of programming for the New Teacher Mentoring Program.
- The NYC education department covers the costs.