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The Critical Role of Teacher Leaders

New research offers framework to understand the many forms teacher leadership takes, and insights into the opportunities for educators in Massachusetts.

As part of the Invest in Educators portfolio, our Education team wanted to understand more about how teachers, school and system leaders think about the purpose and power of teacher leadership while mapping the current landscape of teacher leadership opportunities within Massachusetts.

In addition to engaging the expertise of our grantees, we worked with Education First to incorporate national research on approaches to teacher leadership with the perspectives and reality of the landscape of opportunities for teacher leaders in Massachusetts. That research identified a few themes:

  • Multiple forms. Teacher leadership takes many forms. Opportunities may support teachers to expand their sphere of influence and/or deepen their work directly with students. (e.g., teacher leaders may have additional responsibilities that allow them to share their expertise with more students or educators, or teacher leaders may be supported to gain more expertise and skills to allow them to directly impact student learning in new ways in a school or across a system.)
  • Opportunities & Pathways. Teachers do not have visibility into what leadership opportunities are available to them, and it is unclear how those opportunities may fit together to form career pathways for teachers.
  • Commitment. Effective teacher leadership is an ongoing, critical component of high-quality schools. Thus, it must be supported by senior leadership with dedicated time, space, resources, and accountability.

Effective teacher leadership is a critical component of high-quality schools. It must be supported with dedicated time, space, resources, and accountability.

We are happy to share an overview of the project’s findings, including the framework below, which offers one way to organize the current landscape of opportunities for teacher leadership at the local or regional level.

We encourage those interested in this field to explore Education First’s research and the sample framework. We are guided by the expertise and knowledge of our grantees who are already leaders in this field, as we explore what some next steps might be. In addition, the Barr Foundation is eager to hear from practitioners on how to increase the visibility into and the coherence of these leadership opportunities. Please email

Explore Education First's Research

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EF teacher leadership puzzle framework

This framework offers one way to map the roles and opportunities available to teacher leaders – organized around different ways to impact student learning. Explore the research document above to learn how this framework was developed and see how the current Massachusetts landscape might map to it.

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Kate Dobin

Former Senior Program Officer, Education