A high-quality curriculum is vital for students to meet academic standards, and educators need professional learning to implement the materials effectively and align their instructional practices accordingly (Chu et al., 2022; Short & Hirsh, 2020). However, the growing movement for curriculum-based professional learning often overlooks an important resource for implementation: teacher leaders. Unlike administrators, teacher leaders continue in the classroom while also demonstrating, facilitating, or building capacity among their peers. This positions them well to lead the implementation of new curricula. Unfortunately, many teachers do not see themselves as leaders, nor do their supervisors or the general public (Bybee, 2023). Recognizing that teacher leaders play an essential role in curriculum adoption and implementation, the Chicago Public Schools Department of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

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A participant’s perspective

A devivo“Teaching can be an isolating experience with few moments of collaboration, but as a member of (the master teacher leader cohort), I was part of a community of like-minded individuals who inspired me to continue to improve my practice so that my students had a more rich and transformational learning experience in science.”

— Andy DeVivo, a member of the first master teacher leader cohort in 2018. At that time, he was a 4th-grade math and science teacher. He continued to participate in the cohort until 2022, when he joined the Chicago Public Schools Department of STEM as the 4th-grade science specialist. He now serves as one of the facilitators of the master teacher leader cohort.


Barnes, M. & Gonzales, J. (2015). Hacking education: 10 quick fixes for every school. Times 10 Publications.

Brown, B.A. (2019). Science in the city: Culturally relevant STEM education. Harvard Education Press.

Bybee, R.W. (2023). Leadership by and for science teachers. NSTA Press.

Chu, E., McCarty, G., Gurny, M., & Madhani, N. (2022). Curriculum-based professional learning: The state of the field. Center for Public Research and Leadership.

Duckworth, S. (n.d.). Wheel of power/privilege.

Grissom, J.A., Egalite, A.J., & Lindsay, C.A. (2021). How principals affect students and schools: A systematic synthesis of two decades of research. The Wallace Foundation.

Jacobson, D. & Mustafa, N. (2019). Social identity map: A reflexivity tool for practicing explicit positionality in critical qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18.

Learning Forward. (2022). Standards for Professional Learning. Author.

Leithwood, K., Louis, K.S, Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). Executive summary: How leadership influences student learning. The Wallace Foundation.

Miller, B., Moon, J., Elko, S., & Spencer, D.B. (2000). Teacher leadership in mathematics and science: Casebook and facilitator’s guide. Heinemann.

Short, J. & Hirsh, S. (2020). The elements: Transforming teaching through curriculum-based professional learning. Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Wenner, J.A. & Campbell, T. (2017). The theoretical and empirical basis of teacher leadership: A review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 87(1), 134-171.

Sarah stults
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Sarah E. Stults ( is a science instructional coach at Loyola University Center for Science and Math Education.

Kayla cherry
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Kayla Cherry ( is a science instructional coach at the Loyola University Center for Science and Math Education.

Julie jacobi
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Julie A. Jacobi ( is the assistant director for science programs at the Loyola University Center for Science and Math Education.

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Rachel Shefner ( is Loyola University Chicago’s assistant provost.

Categories: Continuous improvement, Equity, Instructional materials/curriculum, Learning communities, Teacher leadership

The Learning Professional

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