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MS in Education Course Insight: Common Skills of a Teacher Leader

Read along with Walden University MSEd students to find out what it takes to be a teacher leader.

Teachers are leaders and always have been. And as a teacher, you are well acquainted with the variety of daily leadership roles you encounter: working with students, peers, and administrators, to name a few. Yet as you pursue your master’s degree in education, you’ll learn more about another leadership role and career opportunity: teacher leader.

In Walden University’s MSEd course New and Emerging Technologies, education professionals study the future of teaching and learning as they explore how to become teacher leaders in the classroom, the school, and sometimes even the district. They learn skills and teaching strategies to lead change across commonly encountered challenges like limited resources and resistance to change. Walden MSEd students take a deep dive into the teacher leader role through a variety of means, including required reading assignments. In this excerpt from “Leading Change From the Classroom: Teachers as Leaders,” 1 Victoria Boyd-Dimock and Kathleen M. McGree share well-researched insights:

MS in Education Course Insight: Common Skills of a Teacher Leader

What Is Teacher Leadership?

Teachers typically define career satisfaction in terms of their ability to be of service to others and make a difference in the lives of their students (McLaughlin & Lee, 1988). Similarly, the leadership considerations of teachers are grounded in their desire to improve the quality of teaching and learning for all students. Studies have shown that teachers do not subscribe to traditional definitions of leadership as "higher" or "superior" positions within the organizational hierarchy (Devaney, 1987). Instead, teachers view leadership as a collaborative effort, a "banding together" with other teachers to promote professional development and growth and the improvement of educational services (Troen & Boles, 1992).

Today, leadership roles have begun to emerge and promise real opportunities for teachers to impact educational change—without necessarily leaving the classroom. Teachers are now serving as research colleagues, working as advisor-mentors to new teachers, and facilitating professional development activities as master teachers. Teachers also act as members of school-based leadership teams, instructional support teams and leaders of change efforts (Livingston, 1992). In addition, teachers are forging a number of new and unique leadership roles through their own initiative by developing and implementing programs they personally believe will result in positive change (Troen & Boles, 1992).

What Do Teacher Leaders Do?

In one of the most extensive studies on the work of teacher leaders, Lieberman, Saxl, and Miles (1988) focused on what teachers actually did when they assumed leadership positions designed to provide assistance to other teachers. The authors found that the work of lead teachers was varied and largely specific to the individual context of the school. In order to be effective with their colleagues, lead teachers found it necessary to learn a variety of leadership skills while on the job. Those skills included:

  • Building trust and developing rapport
  • Diagnosing organizational conditions
  • Dealing with processes
  • Managing the work
  • Building skills and confidence in others

The authors concluded that restructuring school communities to incorporate leadership positions for teachers will require teacher leaders to take certain actions. These include: placing a nonjudgmental value on providing assistance, modeling collegiality as a mode of work, enhancing teachers' self-esteem, using different approaches to assistance, making provisions for continuous learning and support for teachers at the school site and encouraging others to provide leadership to their peers.

How Can You Learn More About Teacher Leaders?

You can expand your knowledge and enhance your career with a master’s in education online. Walden’s Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degree program is at the top of its class with timely, relevant curriculum and enrichment opportunities. And you can tailor your education degree to your career goals by choosing Walden’s self-designed MSEd specialization or another of the accredited university’s 17 MSEd specializations. Walden recognizes that time is one of the most precious commodities for working professionals and has designed six master’s in education specializations in an accelerated format that allows you to earn your degree in as little as 12 months.

With an MS in Education, you can chart a course to become a more effective teacher in your classroom, to direct others as a teacher leader, or to prepare for a new career such as administrator, counselor, or content specialist. Explore the range of online teaching degrees at Walden and get ready to lead change from the classroom and beyond.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Education degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Walden MSEd curriculum source:

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,