Today 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 the foundational competencies and the overarching competencies.