What is a Teacher Leader? - Definition & Characteristics

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  • 0:03 What Is a Teacher Leader?
  • 2:01 Characteristics of a…
  • 4:44 Expertise Areas
  • 6:01 Support and a Positive Culture
  • 6:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Nash

Sherri’s teaching includes middle school through college. Degrees include bachelor’s marketing education, master’s adult education and doctorate in curriculum instruction.

This lesson explains teacher leadership and the valuable roles that teacher leaders perform. We'll explore the special characteristics that quality teacher leaders possess.

What Is a Teacher Leader?

A teacher leader has a passion for both teaching students and mentoring or assisting fellow teachers. Peer teachers have the greatest influence on other teachers in impacting school-wide change and driving improvements in the classrooms. The teacher leadership structure may be formalized, or teachers might informally evolve into a supportive role. This role includes providing individual or group assistance in a number of areas, such as curriculum, instruction, classroom management, professional development, mentoring, data coaching, and continuous improvement initiatives.

Assume you are a teacher who transferred from Autocratic High School to Empowerment High School. You meet several veteran teachers that welcome you to the school and offer assistance. At Autocratic High School, there was a formal structure where one teacher with administrative certification was appointed as a Curriculum Supervisor. She worked with the administration and provided professional development workshops for teachers. You discover that Empowerment High School does not have this supportive position. Instead, it has several teacher leaders who share their expertise and talents in an informal structure.

Principal Strong introduces the teachers and praises their collective leadership and assistive roles, which result in increased student achievement. Mr. Cash is successful in acquiring grant funding, training on technology instruction resources, and analyzing student performance data. Mrs. Wise work with teachers on curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessment techniques. One teacher tells you, 'Mr. Steady really helped me improve my classroom management skills last year.' You notice that these teachers also facilitate professional development sessions. You are impressed by how involved the teachers are outside of their own classrooms. During the school year, you notice that teacher leaders have certain quality characteristics.

Characteristics of a Teacher Leader

Effective teacher leaders generally possess multiple characteristics, expertise in several areas, and work in a school with supportive administrators and a positive culture. Assume you have been teaching at Empowerment High School for six months with Mr. Cash, your mentor. You think about the characteristics he has demonstrated in assisting you:

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