Teacher leaders' preparation: Developing knowledge and skills for teacher leadership
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, which draw on different kinds of knowledge and skills. Well-designed preparation programs help ensure that reform efforts are succesful by equipping teacher leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective in their work to improve instruction.
Practice-based Insights on Teacher Leaders' Preparation: Developing Knowledge and Skills for Teacher Leadership
Advice from experienced practitioners offers guidance to those involved in work with preparation programs that develop teacher leader knowledge and skills. Insights provided by a group of expert practitioners with diverse backgrounds and experiences in working with teachers included the following ideas:
- Align preparation to the work – The knowledge and skills developed in a preparation program should reflect the focus of teacher leaders’ work in schools.
- Fill the gaps – Teacher leader preparation should reinforce, or develop as needed, the knowledge and skills called out in teacher leader selection criteria.
- The making of a leader – Teacher leader preparation should further develop teacher leaders' knowledge of and skills in leading others.
- We’re all in this together – Teacher leader preparation should develop the learning community mentality, as well as teacher leaders’ capacity to foster such communities.
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 Teacher Leaders' Preparation: Developing Knowledge and Skills for Teacher Leadership
In a review of the published empirical literature, twenty three research studies were identified that included findings related to the knowledge and skills developed for teacher leadership through participation in a structured preparation program. These studies investigated three aspects of this topic. One set examined the relationship between the specific knowledge and skills developed in a preparation program and teacher leader practice. Findings from these studies indicated that what teacher leaders learned in a preparation program was replicated in their practice with teachers. A second set of studies investigated the relationship between a preparation program and change in teacher leader knowledge and skills. These studies found that preparation programs had a positive impact on participants’ knowledge and skills. An analysis of a third set of studies focused on the topics addressed in teacher leader preparation programs. A review of these studies revealed that programs most frequently addressed multiple topics within disciplinary content knowledge, pedagogy and leadership skills.Learn more about research on developing knowledge and skills for teacher leadership