Onboard Senior/Team Leads

Vision of Excellence

Essential Questions


The success of Senior/Team Leads is contingent on getting off to a good start in their roles. School leaders must onboard Senior/Team Leads effectively to ensure their readiness to take on leadership roles. School leaders who are strong in this focus area spend significant time developing Senior/Team Leads’ mindsets, skills and practices so that they are clear about their roles, understand the various systems and tools they will use, and can effectively plan for the work of leading teams and supporting teachers. How can school leaders and Senior/Team Leads best work together in support of the school’s vision and their own goals?

How can school leaders best prepare and support Senior/Team Leads to ensure teacher success?

How can Senior/Team Leads develop the mindsets and skills necessary for success in supporting other teachers and leading collaborative teams?

1. Establish Strong Working Relationships with Senior/Team Leads

2. Develop Mindsets, Skills, and Practices for Leadership, People Management and Supporting Teachers

3. Build Senior/Team Lead Fluency with Systems and Tools


Who is the primary audience for this focus area?  School Leaders
When is this focus area most useful?  From Selection to Rollout

Objective 1: Establish Strong Working Relationships with Team Leads

Key Action Steps

Ensure Senior/Team Leads’ understanding of management structures and systems

  • Introduce the school’s organization chart during early meetings with Senior/Team Leads, and walk them through the school’s leadership structure.
  • Preview expectations, meeting schedule and purpose of the Instructional Leadership Team with each Senior/Team Lead.
Begin initial one-on-one meetings with each Senior/Team Lead

  • Set up ongoing individual meetings with Senior/Team Leads on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. During initial one-on-one meetings, get clear on working styles and expectations for the relationship. Use coaching agreements to support future conversations. Revisit Senior/Team Leads’ hopes and fears for the position and share your own.
  • Make time to discuss the shifting nature of their role and position in the school, acknowledge the inherent challenges, and offer consultative support in navigating relationships.
Assess the strengths and needs of your Senior/Team Leads

  • Use Strength Finders and other inventories to learn about the leadership and working styles of your Senior/Team Leads.

Spotlight on Schools

Before implementing Teacher Leadership & Collaboration, one school team held a full-day, off-site retreat with school leaders and Senior/Team Leads. They focused on connecting their vision for teacher leadership to Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) goals, discussed one another’s leadership and working styles, engaged in  role plays focused on expectations in their new roles, and spent time planning weekly and year-long calendars. The retreat played an essential role in setting Senior/Team Leads up for success and ensuring that members of the ILT all felt invested in the school’s vision and the principal’s goals.

Objective 2: Develop Mindsets, Skills and Practices for Leadership, People Management and Supporting Teachers

Key Action Steps

Conduct planning meetings with all Senior/Team Leads to prepare them for their new roles

  • Use collaborative time with Senior/Team Leads to describe the school’s unique vision for teacher leadership and its alignment to UIP goals. Senior/Team Leads can then develop their own vision for supporting teachers and leading teams that align to the school’s vision and UIP. Be sure to provide feedback on their vision and return to it regularly.
  • Provide training for Senior/Team Leads collectively to support their shift from colleague to leader. Consider using role plays to practice difficult conversations and highlight your expectations for them.
  • Support Team Leads to understand the importance of effective use of work time and the components they should plan for in their new schedule. Engage together to create draft calendars for the first few months of school.
Practice systems, structures and behaviors with your Senior/Team Leads to build familiarity with the functions of their role

  • Conduct walkthroughs or co-observations with Senior/Team Leads new to the role before the end of the school year using protocols and templates that they will be expected to use.
  • Have Senior/Team Leads, both returning and new to the role, observe you preparing and conducting feedback sessions with other teachers. After the sessions, request feedback from them on your practice.
  • Observe Senior/Team Leads’ teaching, and provide them with feedback to model your expectations for them, as they provide similar feedback to their teams. Provide meta-coaching on your feedback.
  • Support Senior/Team Leads in developing their initial agendas for August team meetings.
Provide or seek out shared learning opportunities for Senior/Team Leads

  • Consider a wide array of options when it comes to providing learning opportunities. For instance, send Senior/Team Leads to the values-based programming offered by the Culture Equity & Leadership Team or engage in professional learning through book studies. Take time to clarify what the purpose of each opportunity is, what you expect Senior/Team Leads to learn, and how each activity is aligned to the qualities and components of leadership and the specific functions of their role.

Spotlight on Schools

Senior/Team Leads have valued the opportunity to engage in book studies with their school leader prior to the start of the school year. These studies have focused on practical knowledge, specific skills and leadership competencies. Some of the books previously used in schools include:

The Together Teacher and The Together Leader by Maia Heyck-Merlin

Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone and Bruce Patton

Teach Like a Champion 2.0 by Doug Lemov

The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar

Instructional Coaching by Jim Knight

Objective 3: Build Senior/Team Lead Fluency with Systems and Tools

Key Action Steps

Support Senior/Team Leads’ use of district-wide systems, rubrics and tools

  • Once they are certified and have access, provide Senior/Team Leads multiple opportunities to practice scripting observations and entering scores and evidence in SchoolNet. Give individual and/or collective feedback to Senior/Team Leads as they are practicing and honing these skills.
  • Schedule regular calibration sessions across key LEAP indicators throughout the school year.
Train Senior/Team Leads in the use if school-specific and network specific systems, trackers and templates

  • Support Senior/Team Leads to draft their first learning cycle. Provide feedback and time for revision.
  • Review and ensure familiarity with trackers and templates for school-wide systems and rubrics such as tracking observations and action steps, lesson planning and feedback, and communicating with teachers.  Ensure Senior/Team Leads incorporate expectations around these tools in early conversations with their teacher teams.