Defining Teacher-Leader Roles—click to download a PDF of this page.
In many schools, teachers assume leadership roles. These teacher-leader roles vary greatly in their selectivity, responsibilities, and authority from school to school, and in some cases teacher-leaders do not have a formal title. Teacher-leader roles do have a common purpose, however: to enable teaching peers to improve and ultimately increase their students’ academic achievement.
In an Opportunity Culture school, excellent teachers with leadership competencies working in the Multi-Classroom Leadership model extend their reach to more students by leading teacher teams that use their methods and materials, providing their teams with on-the-job professional learning. The multi-classroom leader (MCL) continues to teach, while also assigning roles to the team, co-planning instruction, and helping the team teachers develop and excel. These leaders, who are paid more, take accountability for the learning of all students on their team, and delegate responsibilities to teachers and paraprofessionals that make the best use of everyone’s time. Many teachers have MCL roles in an Opportunity Culture.
A much smaller number of teacher-leaders in Opportunity Culture schools have hybrid roles, in which they teach part-time while designing curricula or assessments, producing videos for use by other teachers, or playing other roles that benefit many teachers.
All Opportunity Culture teacher-leader roles are designed within the Opportunity Culture Principles, which state that teams of teachers and school leaders must choose and tailor models to:
- Reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams
- Pay teachers more for extending their reach
- Fund pay within regular budgets
- Provide protected in-school time and clarity about how to use it for planning, collaboration, and development
- Match authority and accountability to each person’s responsibilities
Additional teacher-leader roles may operate alongside these Opportunity Culture roles, or independently in schools using traditional staffing models. These other teacher-leader roles vary widely.
Here we present:
- A Teacher-Leader Role List with very brief descriptions; in practice, roles and titles may vary significantly
- A Teacher-Leader Job Characteristics Checklist that shows some of the ways in which roles vary
These lists can help schools and districts ensure that each role has a clear purpose with qualifications, pay, accountability, and authority that match the role’s responsibilities. Schools and districts may also use the checklists to align roles within schools and across the district—to avoid overlap that leads to conflicts and to ensure that everyone is working effectively toward common goals.
Districts planning to adopt teacher-leader roles can use these checklists as guides for designing their own leadership roles to benefit other teachers and students.
Teacher-Leader Role List
Teacher-Leader Job Characteristics Checklist
Does this role:
- Require that the teacher-leader has demonstrated excellence in achieving student outcomes?
- Pay more?
- Hold the teacher-leader accountable for student outcomes of other teachers?
- Expect the teacher-leader to observe and provide job-embedded feedback to other teachers?
- Allow the teacher-leader to have direct classroom responsibilities and continue teaching for part of the workday?
- Expect the teacher-leader to be a liaison between teachers and administration?
- Expect the teacher-leader to develop a culture of collaborative professional practice?
- Include a formal expectation of the teacher-leader to improve the instructional practice of other teachers?
- Require that the teacher-leader contribute to evaluation of teachers on their team, possibly to play a role in hiring and dismissal decisions?
- Require additional training or advanced degree?