The teacher leadership framework gives actionable insights for educators who want to be teacher leaders.

Mar 04, 2021

To deliver exceptional instruction to students, schools need teacher leaders. What does it mean to be a teacher leader? The definition of teacher leadership is multifaceted, including a combination of knowledge and skills, dispositions, and roles and opportunities. The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession has developed a framework for those expanding their leadership abilities.

Knowledge and Skills

To become a teacher leader, you need to develop a diverse body of knowledge and a variety of skills. These skills, abilities, and knowledge can be separated into the following five categories.

Working with Adult Learners: Teacher leaders know how to take a caring stance, develop cultural competency, and build trusting relationships. You should also know how to facilitate professional learning for teachers. This requires the ability to use reflection strategically, structure dialogue and discussion, and engage adult learners.

Communication: Teacher leaders build relationships through communication. This requires objectivity, exceptional cultural competency, and the ability to facilitate healthy, productive discussion. Technical skills are also a main component of the teacher leader’s communication toolkit. Such skills include deep listening, the ability to manage large and small group interaction, and the capability to facilitate learning-focused discussions.

Collaboration: Collaborative and organizational skills are crucial if you want to be a teacher leader. Collaborative skills like conflict resolution, modeling, sharing responsibility, and matching language to the situation are all vital. Teacher leaders can also collaborate effectively because of their organizational skills. You should be able to facilitate and document meetings, while delegating responsibility.

Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy: To be a teacher leader, you must personally use effective pedagogical strategies in the classroom. It is also important that you have a strong subject matter knowledge and the ability to analyze content and pedagogical strategies.

Systems Thinking: Given the complexity of school systems, a true teacher leader can understand power structure and decision making in context. You should know how to deal effectively with resistance and how to garner support from stakeholders.


Teacher leaders share a common set of attitudes and beliefs about education. To be an effective teacher leader, you should:

    • Combine teacher learning with student learning;
    • Value the work of learners;
    • Accept and act on constructive feedback;
    • Possess the courage to take risks;
    • Honor all perspectives;
    • Presume all stakeholders are working in the best interest of students;
    • Value professional expertise;
    • Foster community;
    • Know when to compromise;
    • Admit when you’re wrong;
    • Engage in honest communication;
    • Desire to work with adults;
    • Motivate others with your own passion;
    • Engage in reflective examination;
    • Support the growth of others;
    • Enjoy challenges;
    • See the bigger picture; and
    • Embrace the opportunity to work with diverse views.

Roles and Opportunities

The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession has identified more than 40 different roles held by teacher leaders. The five main categories include instructional/curriculum specialists, advocates/partners, classroom supporters, and school leaders. These roles allow teacher leaders to make a meaningful impact in their schools and in their communities as a whole.

Join other Arizona teacher leaders at this summer's 16th Annual Teacher Leadership Institute: Where Curiosity and Leadership Unite online from June 21 to 23 and at no cost to Arizona educators. This engaging three-day event will explore the role of inquiry and curiosity and how it guides teacher and student learning alike. Learn more and register at

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