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Leading From The Front Of The Classroom: A Roadmap To Teacher Leadership That Works

Abstract

"Teacher leadership holds tremendous promise for enhancing instructional capacity, strengthening adult and student culture, and increasing the capacity of teams across a school. In addition, teacher leadership can also increase investment and trust, empower teachers as front-line leaders, and elevate the status of the teaching profession by creating a true career progression. But many challenges prevent school systems from fully leveraging the impact of teacher leadership. Primary among these is the need to carefully align the form and function of teacher leadership with a system's highest priorities. Teacher leadership lies in between traditional conceptions of teaching and administrative responsibilities. Thus, successful implementation of teacher leadership depends on careful planning and alignment across teams and initiatives.

If implemented effectively, teacher leadership can contribute significantly to achieving short-term progress and sparking additional, enduring innovation. Current teacher leadership initiatives build trust and increase schools' and systems' comfort with and capacity for distributed leadership. This in turn enables further innovation in the future. In that sense, our roadmap represents a potentially virtuous cycle with broader implications for how education leaders leverage teacher leadership over the long term to create school structures that meet the needs of all children.

In three additional papers, we further explore the implementation opportunities and challenges of innovative teacher leader roles, providing deeper context for the work of Denver Public Schools, the Tennessee Department of Education, and the Noble Network as leaders design for impact, survey the landscape, define the measures, and build strategically. These examples offer valuable lessons on the way forward as systems travel the path from investing in teacher leadership to increasing student achievement."

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