Buoyed on All Sides

By Learning Forward
December 2012
Vol. 33 No. 6
The idea of teacher leadership holds an immense and intuitive appeal. Most educators agree that teacher leaders are essential to fostering a climate of authentic and robust leadership and learning across a school. Teacher leadership is peer leading at its most authentic, demanding, and empowering. While the value of teacher leadership may be obvious, the path to realizing successful teacher leadership is not. That path is particularly rocky for educators pressured with the demands of transforming a chronically low-performing school into a high-achieving one. Simply placing an effective teacher in a role of leadership does not automatically make him or her a leader. Teachers who have developed competence in the classroom have not necessarily developed competence in leading adults as learners or in leading systemic

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Marisa Suescun, Toby Romer, and Elisa MacDonald

Marisa Suescun ( is a program manager for the Teach Plus T3 Initiative in Boston, Mass. Toby Romer ( is a T3 coach and director of professional development and data inquiry at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury, Mass. Elisa MacDonald ( is director of teacher leader development for the Teach Plus T3 Initiative.

Teacher leaders need support from many angles, through a network of skillful, committed, and purposeful educators both within and outside of their schools.

Attributes of a T3 Teacher Leader

  1. Purpose-driven instructional leader: Focused on what matters.
  2. Skillful facilitator of adult learning: Invested in the growth of all learners.
  3. Evidence-based decision maker: Turns data into actionable knowledge.
  4. Schoolwide change agent: Driven to ensure sustainable change.
  5. Ongoing learner: Insatiable in the quest for improvement.

Source: Teach Plus T3 Initiative.


Katzenmeyer, M. & Moller, G. (2009). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lambert, L. (2003). Leadership capacity for lasting school improvement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

The Learning Professional

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