Teacher Leaders Working with Principals
Teacher leaders – current or former classroom teachers working with other classroom teachers and other educators in the school or district – are present in many reform efforts in mathematics and science education. Teacher leaders may engage in a variety of practices, inside and outside of the classroom, that support instructional improvement. Teacher leaders and principals may work together to make decisions or facilitate reform in their school. Principals may also make decisions that influence the nature of teacher leaders' work with teachers. These kinds of interactions between teacher leaders' and principals' practice help shape the overall direction of leadership and instructional improvement in schools.
Practice-based Insights on Teacher Leaders Working with Principals
Advice from experienced practitioners offers guidance to those involved in teacher leader work with principals to improve instruction. Insights provided by a group of expert practitioners with diverse backgrounds and experiences in working with teachers included the following ideas:
- Get on the same page – Advocate that teacher leaders cultivate principal support in creating a school-wide culture that promotes teacher leadership.
- Make it count – Prepare teacher leaders to secure principal support in the form of time and material resources.
- What’s the job? – Establish agreement with administrators about teacher leaders’ roles and responsibilities.
Teacher Leadership Matters
Empirical evidence shows that teacher leaders' practice impacts teachers' instructional practice and, in some studies, provides evidence of positive impact on student outcomes. Findings across studies include:
- Teacher leaders' practice, particularly in providing instructional support to teachers, impacts teachers' classroom practice.
- Teacher leaders' practice occurs in a larger context of conditions that impact teachers' practice.
- Teacher leaders' practice is related to positive student outcomes.
Research on the Work of Teacher Leaders and Principals
In a review of the published empirical literature, nineteen research studies were identified that included findings related to the work of teacher leaders and principals. These studies investigated two aspects of this topic. One set examined the influence of the principal, in their work with teacher leaders, on the development of teacher leadership and teacher leaders’ practice with classroom teachers. These studies identified the principal’s practices that may support, or limit, the effectiveness of teacher leadership. A second set of studies investigated the nature of collaboration of teacher leaders and principals. Findings from these studies suggested that principals seek out teacher leaders’ input around instructional issues and that these efforts have a positive impact on changes in school-wide instruction. Findings in both sets of studies were consistent across grade levels. Few of the studies were designed to investigate the role of subject area (i.e. mathematics or science) in the shared work of teacher leaders and principal, indicating an area for future research.Learn more about research on the work of teacher leaders and principals