The What, Why, and How of Teacher Leadership: Mark Your Calendars


By Klea Scharberg

What is a teacher leader? Or, more precisely, what should a teacher leader be? While there is widespread agreement about the value of teacher leadership and even the need to develop such roles, confusion exists about what the position should look like. Many educators want to grow professionally and share their expertise with their communities but find themselves without a road map in terms of preparation, support, and professional development. These teacher leaders are seeking guidance on the parameters and deployment of their roles.

This December, ASCD’s second Whole Child Symposium will provide a forum for educators to take part in the conversation about teacher leaders. Attendees will share different viewpoints and contribute to action plans that each of us, regardless of our areas of influence, can use to improve education systems, processes, and outcomes.

Join the ConversationWCS pin

  • Read the latest issue of ASCD Policy Points, which focuses on the teacher leadership landscape (PDF). It shares findings related to roles, experiences, and characteristics of teacher leaders and information on how states are recognizing them.
  • Participate in the next #ASCDL2L Twitter chat on Tuesday, December 2, from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern time. Whole Child Symposium panelists Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDeWitt) and Jennifer Orr (@jenorr) will kick off the teacher leadership discussion and we will be looking to see your responses to our questions. DeWitt, coauthor of School Climate Change: How do I build a positive environment for learning?, brings his experience as a former elementary teacher and principal to the table. Orr, a 2013 ASCD emerging leader, will facilitate the chat and share her perspective as a current classroom teacher.
  • Watch the live stream of ASCD’s second Whole Child Symposium on Wednesday, December 3, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Two expert panels featuring ASCD authors Robyn Jackson and Peter DeWitt, teachers Maddie Fennell and Jennifer Orr, and organization leaders Becky Pringle (National Education Association) and Tanya Tucker (America’s Promise Alliance) will discuss what a teacher leader is and the role’s importance to teaching, learning, and the education profession. The entire program will be live streamed at, and we encourage participants to join the Twitter dialogue during the event using #WCS14.
  • Learn more about the ASCD Whole Child Approach and how it works in relation to school climate and culture, building and teacher leadership, curriculum and instruction, assessment, classroom strategies, and more with ASCD’s PD Online® course, “An Introduction to the Whole Child,” currently available for free to all educators. Compare and contrast your current professional practices with the ASCD Whole Child Approach through assessments, articles from Educational Leadership magazine, original readings, videos featuring noted education experts, and applications to implement new ideas for sustainable classroom and school improvement. Sign up now for free 30-day access.

How does focusing attention on teacher leadership help each child succeed? Tell us in the comments.


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