Teacher-leaders helping other teachers improve through formal or informal coaching and mentoring is not new. However, doing so as an empowered team leader is. Evidence and experience suggest that few teacher teams realize their potential. As more of these teams emerge, they can learn about effective teamwork from both early efforts and other jobs in which teamwork is embedded in daily work.
Teacher-leaders too often lack the skills, tools, support, and authority they need to successfully lead teams of their peers. Team teachers, meanwhile, lack clearly defined roles and incentives to participate in the intense collaboration required for a highly effective team. And principals rarely have the time to supervise and support teacher teams or the knowledge and training to do so effectively. As a result, teachers who participate on teams may feel frustrated by the team’s limited impact on either instructional practice or student learning.
Other professions routinely have their most successful professionals leading teams. The following resources—some of which are specifically about leading teacher teams and some of which draw from other sectors—provide a range of ideas about how teacher-leaders can lead and improve their own and others’ work, expanding their impact on students and peer teachers, without being forced to move out of the classroom.
Below you will find links to resources on the following topics:
Research on Teacher-Led Teams
The Skillful Team Leader: A Resource for Overcoming Hurdles to Professional Learning for Student Achievement: Solutions for teacher-leaders to common problems in building a team that has a high impact on student learning, from the director of teacher-leader development at Teach Plus
The Power of Teacher Teams: With Cases, Analyses, and Strategies for Success: Book provides proven strategies teacher-leaders can use on team participation, meaningful team roles, and performance expectations
How Teachers Lead Teachers: Article reports on effective strategies observed in teacher-leaders presenting professional learning content to their colleagues
The Co-Teaching Book of Lists: Authors include strategies for co-teaching relationships that teacher-leaders could use, such as establishing roles and responsibilities and negotiating conflicts
General Resources on Team Leadership
Tools for Principals: Tools designed for Opportunity Culture school principals that any school can use, to lead instructional teams of teacher-leaders who in turn support and guide all of a school’s teachers
Tools for Multi-Classroom Leaders: Tools designed for Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leaders that any teacher-leader can use, to lead teaching teams instructional teams of teacher-leaders who in turn support and guide all of a school’s teachers
Pioneering Multi-Classroom Leaders: Vignettes profile four teaching team leaders http://opportunityculture.org/pioneering-multi-classroom-leaders-vignettes/
Becoming a Learning Team: This book from Learning Forward offers teachers guidance in using collaborative learning time to solve specific student learning challenges.https://lf.ps.membersuite.com/onlinestorefront/ViewMerchandiseDetails.aspx?contextID=cbc968d7-00ce-cbaf-eb20-0b3c2da9e102
The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization: Classic book on the power of teams details skills of great team leaders who set specific expectations
Harvard Business Review: Building Better Teams: Set of articles on how team leaders create high-performing teams includes ways to build collaborative teams
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Book illustrates five behaviors that limit team success, and includes questionnaire for evaluating and overcoming a team’s problems
The Discipline of Teams: Harvard Business Review article by the authors of The Wisdom of Teams defines a team—not every group is a team—and the three types of teams, and discusses the four elements that make teams function
Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help: Leadership book provides techniques on understanding what type of help is needed and how to offer it in professional relationships—useful for teamwork and leadership
How Principals Use Multi-Classroom Leadership in School Turnarounds: Vignettes profile four turnaround principals leading instructional team of teacher-leaders