Super Teacher Leader
Outside the Classroom

Why Strong Teacher Leaders Make Successful Schools

The federal government recently passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. Both of these acts were passed by the US Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States. And whether you agree or disagree with your elected officials, I have to believe that they truly want our schools and students to succeed.

Let’s face it, no legislator really wakes up and thinks “I’m going to pass laws that make life tough for teachers and students.” Legislators who mean well passed both of these acts, but only time will tell if the implementation of the law actually leads to the intended results.


One of the things that has me a little excited about ESSA is that, for the first time, a US education law recognizes the important role that teacher leaders play in schools. ESSA supports teacher leaders in four places (p. 319, 333, 350, and 356-357) and supports the use of education funds to provide training and support for teachers on instructional leadership teams (p. 319).

At the ISTE conference in 2014, I led a session for administrators called “Building Teacher Leaders.” The premise of the session was that successful schools have strong teacher leaders and great administrators who help to foster leadership in their teachers. I was fortunate to have some administrators across the US who agreed with me on the importance of teacher leadership share their perspectives as well.

“…teacher leaders are at the heart of every successful blended and online learning program that I have observed or with which I have worked.”

This was one of my favorite sessions because teacher leaders are at the heart of every successful blended and online learning program that I have observed or with which I have worked. Schools that want to build capacity in their blended programs will support the development of teacher leaders.

If you’re a building administrator, it’s time to ask yourself how you can leverage the power of teacher leaders to improve the culture and outcomes at your school. If you’re a teacher, now is a great time to step up and take on a new leadership role. Research shows that teachers adopt new educational technology initiatives in less time and with more success when they are learning from a trusted colleague.

Now it’s your turn to share your expertise with a fellow teacher or to reach out to another teacher and ask for support you as you integrate technology with your classroom practices. Let’s seize the opportunity to show that teacher leaders are a huge part of successful schools.


About the Author


Stacy Hawthorne

Stacy Hawthorne, Lead Strategist at Hawthorne Education, works with schools and districts across the United States as they design and implement technology-rich educational models. She started her consulting work with Evergreen Education Group, authors of the annual Keeping Pace report and a trusted consultant to some of the largest school districts in the country. Prior to her work with Evergreen, Stacy conceived and implemented a successful blended learning program as Technology Integration Coordinator for Medina City Schools in Ohio. Her passion for student-centric and technology-rich learning models grew from her experience as a classroom teacher.

Additionally, Stacy is the Past-President for ISTE’s Administrator professional learning network. Stacy was awarded the Silver President’s Volunteer Service award in 2015 for her efforts. Stacy was a contributor to iNACOL’s Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework that was released in October of 2014 and a researcher for the 2014 Keeping Pace with Digital Learning and 2015 Proof Points projects.