Invest in a Culture of Teacher Leadership

Vision of Excellence

Essential Questions


Schools that experience the greatest and most rapid gains through teacher leadership focus early on creating a culture of collaborative learning and peer support. In these schools, Teacher Leadership & Collaboration is not just one more initiative; it is explicitly linked to and works in service of the school’s larger vision and its goals for improvement.

Ensuring that school staff understand and are invested in this vision is necessary for building the professional learning culture that will lead to significant gains for teachers and students.

How do the vision of the school and its goals for student achievement drive changes in school structure and teacher development?

How do school leaders build the mindsets and knowledge that school personnel need to realize the promise of distributive leadership and collaborative structures for teacher growth?

How do effective leaders invest their school communities in the shifts inherent in the Teacher Leadership & Collaboration model?


1. Connect Teacher Leadership to School Goals and Vision

2. Develop and Communicate Expectations for Key School-Wide Priorities and Structures

3. Engage Early in Teacher Leadership Practices


Who is the primary audience for this focus area?  Instructional Leadership Teams
When is this focus area most useful?  From Selection to Rollout

Objective 1: Connect Teacher Leadership to School Goals and Vision

Key Action Steps

Cultivate buy in and assess readiness for implementing teacher leadership

  • Conduct an information gathering survey to better gauge staff buy-in and understanding of how teacher leadership roles will impact teachers and students. Review results with your leadership team and staff, and correct misconceptions about the shifts.
  • Invite an experienced Senior/Team Lead from another school to engage in conversation with staff around implementation successes and challenges.
Develop and communicate a vision for teacher leadership, ensuring alignment with school’s vision and Unified Improvement Plan goals

  • Return to your Teacher Leadership & Collaboration design work and revise as necessary to finalize your school’s vision for teacher leadership.

Objective 2: Develop and Communicate Expectations for Key School-Wide Priorities and Structures

Key Action Steps

Communicate changes in school vision, structure, roles and expectations

  • Meet with groups of teachers to communicate which team they will belong to, how they will be supported, and by whom, and how team goals align to the overall vision of the school.
  • Share the school’s new organization chart with the entire staff to help communicate new roles and structures. Supplement with descriptions of roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop (or have members of the ILT create) a set of talking points, elevator pitch or FAQ document for staff to refer to regarding how teacher leadership will be implemented in the school.
  • Meet with individual teachers to address one-off concerns. You may choose to offer Team Leads support to drive those conversations.
Establish the key components of a learning cycle and communicate expectations and purpose to staff

  • Use the learning cycle framework to help your staff understand the role of Senior/Team Leads. At minimum, develop a learning cycle template for your Team Leads to use and share it with staff. To clarify expectations, provide best practices and an annotated exemplar.
  • Establish clear structures for one-on-one teacher support and collaborative team time with your Instructional Leadership team. Make sure all school leaders and teacher leaders are prepared to speak with one voice about the goals and purpose of each component of teacher leadership.

Objective 3: Engage Early in Teacher Leadership Practices

Key Action Steps

Pilot practices, structures and systems

  • Use any new trackers or templates to observe your Senior/Team Leads so that you can identify potential challenges and begin building familiarity with new systems.
Increase the frequency of informal observations to support the transition

  • Arrange release time for new Senior/Team Leads to informally observe their future team members and begin building a culture of observation between colleagues. When possible, co-observe and debrief with the new Senior/Team Lead.
  • Observe the work of new Senior/Team Leads, and provide feedback on their instructional practice using coaching strategies. Debrief the coaching session afterward, and allow Senior/Team Leads to provide feedback.

Making Connections

Additional Resources

Additional information for planning, coaching and assessing progress through learning cycles is available from the LEAP team. Below are some resources that school leaders and Senior/Team Leads have found beneficial in implementing learning cycles: