Overarching CompetenciesToday there is no one widely accepted definition for teacher leadership that encompasses the myriad roles that teacher leaders play in their schools and districts. Teacher leadership looks different for every teacher who pursues it, dependent on his or her context. However, there are some common traits among successful teacher leaders across the spectrum. The TLI model is built around a set of teacher leadership competencies – knowledge and skills that can be acquired and honed among aspiring and emerging leaders.

These competencies are identified and developed along three high-leverage pathways in which teacher leaders can have an impact on the profession: Instructional Leadership, Policy Leadership and Association Leadership. Connecting the three spheres are overarching competencies.

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Competency Themes

Reflective Practice

• Mindful and deeply aware of who he/she is as a teacher leader, and aware of areas of possible growth into further leadership.

• Models strong, reflective instructional and leadership practice and engages in a mindful search for opportunities to grow in and out of the classroom.

• Understands the role of data and reflective analysis in practice.
• Helps to create conditions that encourage reflection among peers, administrators, and other staff members.

• Makes strategic plans that are informed by data and reflective analysis.
• Encourages a broad and diverse range of stakeholders to reflect deeply on their roles and responsibilities within instruction, policy, the association, or other elements of teaching and leading.

• Engages in the development and implementation of strategies and policies that encourage reflection leading to refinement and growth.

• Aids others in understanding and using data and reflective analysis to drive practice, policy, and organizational decisions.
• Helps systems to function with a culture of mindful and meaningful reflection.

• Leads the development and implementation of large-scale instructional, policy, and organizational ideas that incorporate reflection and refinement.

• Leads the collection and analysis of data, and supports cultural shifts that incorporate the cycle of reflection and refinement as a regular, consistent, and intentional practice.

Personal Effectiveness

• Understands his or her own personal strengths, leadership style, and passions, and sees the role these play in developing trust and credibility with peers.

• Explores opportunities for teacher leadership, accepting the possibility of adversity.
• Capitalizes on his or her own strengths, leadership style, and passions, and engages in ethical practice, developing trust and credibility with others.

• Takes on teacher leadership roles and responds to adversity with resiliency and humility.
• Adapts in ways that build trust and credibility to support lifelong learning in self and others.

• Balances the roles and duties of teacher leadership with other professional responsibilities, including, when applicable, meaningful work with students.

• Models resiliency and humility in adverse situations.
• Defines new learning based on individual strengths, styles, and leadership passions, nurturing credible and trusting communities of life-long learners.

• Designs new models of teacher leadership and supports others in responding to adversity with resiliency and humility.

• Engages in strategic, vision-aligned risk-taking to achieve wide, lofty, and meaningful goals.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

• Becomes familiar with the skills needed to support colleagues.

• Demonstrates a personal vision for the profession, association, and/or education policy.
• Seeks opportunities to become more effective in supporting colleagues in ways that build trust.

• Builds critical relationships intended to promote action based on shared vision, deeply rooted in the needs of students.
• Serves as a support for others, effectively communicating and engendering trust, with empathy, warmth, and humility.

• Encourages and inspires others to take action grounded in shared vision for the benefit of students.
• Fosters others' development in interpersonal effectiveness and articulates ways to support others in effectively communicating.

• Facilitates others in building and embracing vision that spans boundaries while remaining student-centered.


• Sees the needs and challenges to student growth, successful teaching and learning, and systemic effectiveness, and feels ready and able to address them.

• Crafts engaging and thoughtful message that inspire others.
• Articulates the message that informed, meaningful student-centered goals are worth striving for and what mindful approaches to policy, the association, and instruction may look like.

• Shares a carefully crafted message in ways that will spur others to pursue positive change.
• Defines, differentiates, and effectively delivers messaging to advance systemic change.

• Engenders great passion and understanding for the vision of the leader through skillful use of messaging and consistency of focus.
• Influences other teacher leaders and builds their capacity to communicate and advocate effectively with stakeholders at all levels.

• Successfully navigates communication within diverse and sometimes adversarial power structures.

Continuing Learning and Education

• Creates meaningful professional learning goals, and finds resources to meet those goals.

• Reads scholarly journals and other publications and shares experiences in various venues, such as personal blogs or social media profiles.

• Stays abreast of relevant issues and developments in instruction, policy, and/or the association.
• Participates in learning opportunities outside of familiar contexts, including additional higher education and/or advanced training to meet goals.

• Reads and/or contributes, formally or informally, to conversations around education, and engages in existing research actively by sharing with colleagues and applying new ideas to his or her own practice.

• Attends events such as association conferences or policy forums to learn about the issues being tackled in those realms.
• Designs learning opportunities for self and others around shared professional learning goals, including both job-embedded professional development and outside activities.

• Participates in research projects, seeks publication in scholarly journals, and/or finds new media venues for teacher leaders' voices.

• Leads sessions at conferences and events addressing instruction, the association, and/or policy.
• Crafts and leads continuing education programs for fellow teacher leaders, including higher education courses, large-scale professional development opportunities, and leadership/advocacy professional learning.

• Presents his or her own research at major events and conferences, regularly contributes to scholarly publications, and/or designs new ways for fellow teacher leaders to reach and teach a wide audience.

• Organizes learning events for his or her association and/or for policymakers and other stakeholders, and brings other teacher leaders in as presenters.

Group Processes

• Actively participates in group meetings, events, and learning opportunities, and understands the roles of these opportunities in teacher leadership.

• Engages in work with others with a spirit of open-mindedness and respect for diversity.
• Understands the fundamentals of leading group dynamics, collaborating and navigating difficult situations, and honoring diversity of opinion and varying strengths and styles.• Skillfully manages group dynamics, collaborates, and guides groups through challenges, controversy, conflicts, and adversity, applying an understanding of diversity and what that diversity contributes to group work.• Creates new groups and leads existing groups, offering solutions to challenges and actively engaging diverse opinions and experiences in producing solutions and desired outcomes.

Adult Learning

• Understands the differences in the ways in which adults learn and grow professionally, respecting their expertise and valuing the direct impact adult learning has on student success.• Builds on awareness of adult learning to better understand how to impact colleagues and address their diverse needs, tapping their areas of expertise and experience to enhance personal and group growth.• Leads learning activities to enhance the practice of others at various levels of leadership by implementing adult learning strategies, tapping into peers' diverse areas of expertise.• Designs and implements new learning opportunities for adults, respecting them where they are in their personal practice, while focusing on extending personal and collective growth.

• Develops learning experiences that are extendable and replicable across diverse contexts and communities.

Technological Facility

• Uses technology as a tool for communicating, beyond teaching and learning, and into leadership applications.

• Utilizes technology to manage professional responsibilities, and to expand his or her capacity as a teacher leader.

• Uses technology to engage in synchronous as well as asynchronous collaboration.
• Infuses appropriate existing technology to communicate in working in policy, association, and instructional leadership, and to build networks with colleagues, parents, and other stakeholders.

• Explores technology innovations.

• Uses technology to engage in synchronous as well as asynchronous collaboration to develop a vision.
• Demonstrates appropriate use of existing technology to further learning for students and adults, communicate with diverse audiences, and offer learning opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible, extending the experiences of learners.

• Incorporates emerging technologies into practice.

• Uses technology to facilitate synchronous as well as asynchronous collaboration that is aligned to vision.
• Leads technological innovation and transformation to create new forms of and uses for technology as a tool for communicating, advocating, managing, networking, learning, and teaching.

• Uses technology to support and lead synchronous as well as asynchronous collaboration, including innovative use of virtual environments, to leverage change; shows inventiveness in connecting other teacher leaders.