Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blog Post #4- Selecting Teacher Leaders

This week Rachel & I interviewed my principal to obtain some information about my district’s current mentoring program.  Rachel and I are working together on our Teach to Lead project and we are working to improve the mentoring programs at both of our schools.  One current complaint that my principal had was the way our district goes about choosing mentors to work with the new teachers.  My principal specifically said that mentors should be teacher leaders and it seems that some mentors should not have been given their role to begin with (because they are not teacher leaders).  So this led me to question: How do you find and select teacher leaders?

I read an article from the Teacher-Led Professional Learning site titled, “Selecting Teacher-Leaders.”  In the article they discussed three areas that should be addressed when selecting teacher leaders.  Those areas are, demonstrated job skills, observable behavioral competencies, and prior evidence of success.  Demonstrated job skills refers to the skills that are highlighted in the job description of each teacher.  Observable behavioral competencies refers to the habits of behavior that could help predict how an individual would react and perform in certain tasks.  And finally, prior evidence of success looks to address your track record-have you met your goals at a high level of performance?  These three areas don’t seem to be too confusing, right?  Wrong!  Because they are so broad they can be used to select a variety of teacher leader roles, however this also makes it difficult for administration to develop a selection process for each type of teacher leader role.

Specifics are needed in every area to select teacher leaders and honestly this can be a lot of work for a principal.  Specific job descriptors are needed for each type of teacher leader job, and admin needs to discuss which behavioral competencies are the most important to have for each role they are trying to fill.  I’m sure you’re getting the order for things to be fair they need to be laid out clearly.  I think this can be done it’s just finding the time to do it.  Once a clear set of expectations is put in place for how teacher leaders can be selected for different roles within a school (whether it’s team leader, mentors, coaches, etc) multiple buildings can share that information within a district to use across multiple levels.  What I’m wondering is does anyone know or have a list of selection areas for teacher leaders in your buildings?  I would love to see some of the requirements if you have them!

Here is the link to the article that I referenced:  


  1. Thanks for putting the topic of how we select mentors (aka teacher leaders who can mentor) for new teachers. There is actually a lot of research on this topic and yet I think what you are describing (the lack of clear information or even requirements) can be mind boggling! There are lots of "lists" of what makes a good mentor, but my current favorite is from Educational Leadership and this is a list in which I would say that a good mentor does ALL of these things. But before pasting that link, I also think a good mentor has to be a teacher who can share a classroom with another teacher (not everyone can). This means that we are open to accepting that another teacher will make different (not better or worse) instructional choices for the students.
    here's the link:

  2. Thanks for posting about our interview. I think it gave us a new perspective.

    I do not disagree that we need better ways of selecting mentors. I think, like in your case, mentors being chosen by seniority and not always for their teacher leadership skills. It sounded like your principal wants to be a part of the selection process. I think it might be helpful if your principal (or any principal) met with the mentoring program coordinator to develop some criteria for the selection process. I wonder though, if that should be the extent of their involvement. I think there should be some separation of mentors and evaluators. You don’t want their wires crossed too often.

  3. Sarah
    I think that teacher leaders are becoming more prevalent in schools and there should be set expectations and guidelines for these teachers. As teachers we need to have clear expectations for our students. When they come to us and ask, “Why did I receive this grade?” we have to be able to answer the specifically. It’s not fair to the teachers if they are trying to take on a role that they do not know what is fully expected of them. My school does not have any roles for teacher leaders at the moment, so I unfortunately will not be able to help you out with a list. I am interested to see how other schools handle this, so if you hear anything please post! Thanks for the post, it gave me something to think about in regards to teacher leadership positions.

  4. Sarah,

    I am so glad that you and Rachel are working to improve the teacher mentor program. While it is good that our district does have a mentor program, it certainly has area for improvements. I really like how you stated that there must be specific criteria for selecting teacher leaders for various roles. I was thinking, could we create a "Danielson-like" framework, but geared towards specific types of teacher leaders (department chair, instructional coach, mentor, etc)? I think that when we have specific criteria, it'll make teacher leaders be more effective. I've seen teacher leaders be under-utilized and establishing this criteria will help bring more change from teacher leaders. Thanks for sharing and I'm curious to hear more about your Teach To Lead project.

  5. Hi Sarah,

    Coming from a district with no formal mentoring program (we have instructional coaches, and new teachers are supposed to meet with their coach once a week) it is interesting to hear that other districts do not necessarily have specifics about how they pick their mentors. Your post also led me to continue to think about how we define "teacher leaders". Is it always a position with a title, like "Instructional Coach" or "Mentor" or "Department Chair"? In my district, we have a handful of coaches, but ... that's it. So does that mean ONLY those people are leaders? I like to think of myself as a leader in other ways. Thanks for giving me something else to ponder!