Teacher Leadership: Classroom, School, and Community

School of Professional & Continuing Education (SPCE)

In schools, the opportunity to be a leader is not limited to those in school administrator or principal positions. The newly launched Teacher Leadership program at James Madison University, through the work of Dr. Bryan Zugelde and Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter in the College of Education, is training teachers to fulfill and practice leadership roles in their own classroom, school, and community.

While JMU’s long-standing and successful Educational Leadership program focuses on preparing individuals to be official authorities of the school (such as school administrators or principals), this new Teacher Leadership master’s concentration and graduate certificate allows teachers to learn how to build their own leadership capacity as they maintain their teacher identities. For example, teachers gain the skillset to fill leadership roles such as department heads, being an advocate for the students, or curriculum development. They learn how to coach both their colleagues and students while also learning how to have crucial conversations with peers and superiors in a manner that is impactful and respectful.

Teacher leadership is designed around the National Teacher Leadership Competencies, which include diversity, equity, and cultural competencies, as well as policy, association, and instructional leadership. Teachers learn their strengths in various facets of teacher leadership and complete an enriching teacher leadership project in which they identify an area they want to focus on, create a growth plan, do research, and then implement that project to demonstrate leadership in their unique setting. This program also increases teacher retention rate in schools by allowing teachers to feel like they are more connected to their school and community and influencing others in positive ways.

Despite the program being launched during the pandemic, the Teacher Leadership program has shown great success. Continuing through a hybrid format with both online and in-person classes has been advantageous for teachers as it offers them the flexibility they need and adequately prepares them to work in any setting. The pandemic has also helped teachers learn to utilize the available web tools to enhance learning in new and creative ways. Operating in partnership with Professional and Continuing Education to create opportunities for practicing teachers, the Teacher Leadership program has proven able to build a strong network of learners who are professionals and aspiring leaders.


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Published: Sunday, November 8, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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