How do some teacher leaders manage to transform outcomes for students while others struggle? Is it a matter of skill or do certain school conditions increase the likelihood of success? What characteristics define the priorities of the most effective teacher leaders? How much release time do teacher leaders need to be successful? How do we design more teacher leadership that drives school performance?
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In “Leading from the Front of the Classroom,” Leading Educators and the Aspen Institute outlined a roadmap for systems to build transformative teacher leadership. In this paper, we focus on specific paths for effective teacher leader role design. We collected lessons learned from teacher leaders, their leadership coaches, and their principals through a series of focus groups, interviews, and surveys. Through their experiences, we sought to understand the characteristics of teacher leaders who were successful in driving improvements in teacher practice and student learning. We distill conditions that increase the likelihood of success to help schools build bridges over common obstacles.