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Education Opinion

Teacher Leader Model Standards Released

By Learning Forward — May 08, 2011 3 min read

Last week the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium released the Teacher Leader Model Standards, which were created to stimulate dialogue about what constitutes the knowledge, skills and competencies that teachers need to assume teacher leadership roles in their schools, districts and the profession. Learning Forward Deputy Executive Director Joellen Killion made the following remarks at a forum announcing the release of the standards in Washington May 5.

Teacher Leader Model Standards provide a solid foundation on which teacher leaders and those who prepare, engage, coach, and supervise them will stand. The standards define the functions of teachers who assume leadership responsibilities and suggest the body of knowledge and skills essential for each responsibility.

From the perspective of professional learning, the standards make two significant contributions. First they make explicit the goals and content for the professional learning designed to develop the competencies and effectiveness of teacher leaders. Having a specialized body of knowledge is one attribute of a profession. A profession’s body of knowledge describes the profession-specific knowledge that practitioners are expected to acquire for current and future practice in that profession.

Secondly, the standards delineate the foundational functions for teachers who assume leadership roles and responsibilities to facilitate or support the professional learning of their peers. Professional learning is an essential component of all education reform efforts. Its quality and effectiveness is affected by the skillfulness of those who lead or facilitate educator professional learning. Three domains specifically address this area of teacher leaders’ responsibilities.


  • Domain 1: Fostering a Collaborative Culture to Support Educator Development and Student Learning
  • Domain 3: Promoting Professional Learning for Continuous Improvement
  • Domain 4: Facilitating Improvements in Instruction and Student Learning

The standards contribute value in several ways. The standards provide guidance to teachers who seek opportunities to expand their influence, advance their careers, and engage more substantively in decision making beyond their classrooms.

The standards serve as a reference for the knowledge and skills to develop to be successful in these endeavors. The standards respond to one challenge frequently associated with teacher leadership -- ensuring that teachers have substantive leadership opportunities. The multiple domains of the teacher-leadership standards describe meaningful ways in which school and district administrators can engage teacher leaders and they define clear role expectations for those who create such opportunities.

The standards describe seminal knowledge and skills essential for teachers in leadership roles. Teacher leadership requires additional expertise beyond excellence in teaching. The standards set a foundation for defining and developing this extended expertise. They will guide professional associations, education agencies, institutes of higher education, and district leaders who prepare and support teacher leaders.

The standards elevate and advance teacher leadership. They establish high expectations for teachers assuming the responsibilities associated with multiple leadership roles. By defining the functions expected of teacher leaders, the standards take the first step in amplifying the importance of teacher leadership. They sanction teacher leaders as core contributors to efforts to improve schools, strengthen teaching, and improve student achievement.

The standards provide guidelines for school and district administrators who support, develop, and supervise teacher leaders. Using the standards teachers and principals can work collaboratively to define expectations, determine how best to enact the role of teacher leader, and set goals for ongoing professional learning for teacher leaders.

By delineating common expectations for those who serve as teacher leaders, the standards make it eminently clear that teacher leadership holds extraordinary promise and teacher leaders carry significant responsibility for school improvement, teaching quality, and student learning.

Joellen Killion
Deputy Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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