Teacher Leadership Toolset
for equity and learning

The toolset has been designed to support the development of teacher leadership in school cultures with a flat hierarchy which are undergoing transformation, oriented to equity and learning as the theory of action driving their work with all students. Such deep cultural change requires schools to become learning organizations, in which all professionals see themselves as learners and in which highly effective professionals are recognized and leveraged for improving school quality.

Within every school there is a sleeping giant of teacher leadership that can be a strong catalyst for making changes to improve student learning.
Marilyn Katzenmeyer & Gayle Moller (2009). Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Helping Teachers Develop as Leaders.

Framing roles

What do we mean by teacher leadership?

Teacher leaders are highly effective teachers who accept responsibility beyond classroom instruction for a task or function which contributes to quality development at their school. These teachers act as leading professionals, drawing upon external and experiential knowledge to continually improve their practice with a focus on equity and learning. They are sources of inspiration for their colleagues and ambassadors for their schools.

By taking on a teacher leadership role, teachers “break ranks” and become visible to colleagues as leaders. Where teacher leadership is new, “breaking ranks” in the flat hierarchy typically found in school cultures commonly results in irritation, on a spectrum from speaking up and attracting attention to designed intervention and resistance.

Tool #3: Framing Roles
Teacher leaders need to be skilled in switching contexts and roles when they communicate with others. One way to foster awareness of contexts and roles is to regularly ask the question, “What hat am I wearing right now?” or “Am I working in the system right now or am I working on it?” This last question helps to frame the role.

There are many ways in which Tool #3 may be used. Here are two suggestions:


School leaders (principals and teacher leaders) consciously suspend past experiences, constructs, personal perceptions and pre-judgements to work systematically in an inquiry mode. The principle underlying the inquiry is: Each of us is important and has an important contribution to make in our school.

For Teacher Leaders

Step 1

Step 1: How does it feel when...

Present the frames and discuss the differences with others. How does it feel when:
  • I am working as a teacher in the system?
  • I am working on the system as a teacher leader?
  • Step 2. Photo by:  Ardonik, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/ardonik/4719893645/

    Step 2: How do the situations differ? Share with others...

  • Identify three situations in which it is clear that you are working in the system.
  • Identify three situations in which it is clear that you are working on the system as a teacher leader.
  • Step 3

    Step 3: How clear is your role? Share with others...

  • Are there situations in which the role is not always clear?
  • What strategies do you have to clarify your role in those situations?
  • For collegial dialogue

    Step 1. Photo by ecowa, see http://pixabay.com/en/feel-high-girl-island-istanbul-277802/

    Step 1: How does it feel when...

    Present the frames and discuss the differences with others. How does it feel when:
  • The teacher leader is working as a teacher in the system?
  • The teacher leader is working on the system as a teacher leader?
  • Step 2

    Step 2: How do the situations differ? Share with others...

  • Identify three situations in which it is clear that the teacher leader is working in the system.
  • Identify three situations in which it is clear that the teacher leader is working on the system as a teacher leader.
  • Learning context. Photo by ecowa, see http://pixabay.com/en/water-flow-line-light-fold-soft-277883/

    Step 3: How clear is teacher leader's role? Share with others...

  • Are there situations in which the teacher leader’s role is not always clear?
  • What strategies do you have to clarify the teacher leader’s role in those situations?
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    © 2014 EPNoSL Project