Teacher Facilitator Page

One that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing...

Why This Title?
Teacher Leader Model Standards
Other Resources

Why This Title?

There has been much written recently about teacher leadership. I'm titling this page the Teacher Facilitator Page because the activities of a classroom teacher who is a "teacher leader" (as described in the literature--more below) are better characterized by the term facilitator than leader.

facilitate - 1. to make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, process, etc.). 2. to assist the progress of (a person). (Random House Dictionary)
      - to make it possible or easier for something to happen (Macmillan Dictionary)
facilitator - one that facilitates; especially one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision (Merriam-Webster)

In the seven domains of the Teacher Leader Model Standards (below) the verbs foster, promote, facilitate, improve, and advocate are used, but the verb lead is never used.

I recognize that there are classroom teachers who are (or who can become) great Teacher Facilitators, but may not a desire to move into formal leadership roles such as Department Head, Principal, etc.

Therefore, the terms teacher leader and teacher facilitator are quite similar, but I prefer teacher facilitator.


A good example of a teacher facilitator/leader activity would be going to a math teachers conference and, after returning home, sharing ideas and handouts from the conference with fellow math teachers in one's school (see domain 3 below).  This is just one example.

I have created this page to provide resources, information, and encouragement for classroom teachers to become teacher facilitators (teacher leaders) in their schools.

"An effective teacher is the strongest in-school predictor of student achievement. Teachers teach more effectively when they work in professional cultures where their opinions and input are valued. In such environments, administrators support teachers as they exchange ideas and strategies, problem-solve collaboratively, and consult with expert colleagues." from www.teacherleaderstandards.org/the_vision

Teacher Leader Model Standards


The teacher leader model standards were released in May 2011 by the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium. The standards are comprehensive and therefore can be overwhelming. The nice thing about being a teacher facilitator is that you don't have to facilitate everything. Teachers should use the standards to find roles and niches that fit their abilities, goals, and situations.

"The teacher leader model standards can be used to guide the preparation of experienced teachers to assume leadership roles such as resource providers, instructional specialists, curriculum specialists, classroom supporters, learning facilitators, mentors, school team leaders, and data coaches." (Harrison & Killion, 2007).

"The purpose of these standards—like all model standards—is to stimulate dialogue among stakeholders of the teaching profession about what constitutes the knowledge, skills, and competencies that teachers need to assume leadership roles in their schools, districts, and the profession." (Teacher Leader Model Standards brochure)


The Teacher Leader Model Standards consist of seven domains (under which a list of functions are given in the brochure and website below) describing the many dimensions of teacher leadership:

Domain I: Fostering a Collaborative Culture to Support Educator Development and
Student Learning
Domain II: Accessing and Using Research to Improve Practice and Student Learning
Domain III: Promoting Professional Learning for Continuous Improvement
Domain IV: Facilitating Improvements in Instruction and Student Learning
Domain V: Promoting the Use of Assessments and Data for School and District Improvement
Domain VI: Improving Outreach and Collaboration with Families and Community
Domain VII: Advocating for Student Learning and the Profession

Comment: It should be noted that a teacher facilitator will probably not be involved in all these domains!

Website and Brochure 

teacherleaderstandards.org - Homepage. The standards were developed by the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium (which was formed in 2008). "Rather than serve as a comprehensive job description for teacher leaders, the Standards instead describe seven domains of leadership. Each domain is further developed and supported by a list of functions that a teacher leader who is an expert in that domain might perform."

Brochure - a high-quality, 60-page document describing the background, purpose, and details of the Teacher Leader Model Standards. (Lo-Res version)

Other Resources and Information

featured linkSchool Leadership: Resource Roundup - excellent list of resources and articles on Partnering with Teachers, Cultivating Great School Leaders, and more.

PowerPoint: Teacher Leadership: The Best Hope for Sustaining School Change - excellent overview with a good level of detail. I like slide #5: "Teacher Leadership does not have to be a stepping stone to administration. In fact, many veteran teachers are looking for ways to "scratch the leadership itch" without leaving the classroom."

Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders - by Cindy Harrison and Joellen Killion. A rather short ASCD posting in 2007.

Center for Teacher Leadership - their mission is to promote and support teacher leadership in order to improve teaching and learning.

How to Thrive as a Teacher Leader - book by John Gabriel, 2005. google preview

Teacher Leaders Network - a national initiative of the Center for Teaching Quality.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Helping Teachers Develop as Leaders - book by Marilyn Katzenmeyer, 2009. google preview

Teacher Facilitator?...Leader?

...arranger, advocate, coach, coordinator, designer, developer, facilitator, leader, organizer, promoter...

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Quincy Adams

Please help our students and your fellow teachers, and become one!

Note for Administrators and School Boards

The importance of teacher facilitators/leaders is clear. The concept is rather new and is different from traditional models such as Department Head/Chair or Curriculum Coordinator (which may remain as important roles). I hope you can work to find ways for teacher facilitators to fit into your particular district.  It will be necessary to provide support and resources to develop teacher facilitators in your schools. This is critical if schools/districts are to build capacity for the ongoing professional development of teachers. Ultimately our school children will benefit.  School administration is not my area of expertise, so I'll leave the specifics to those who know more than I (and what's found in the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium brochure above).  I do thank you.

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James R. Olsen, Western Illinois University
E-mail: jr-olsen@wiu.edu
updated: July 19, 2014