They're the teachers who show the newbies on the staff how to untangle all the regulations, give advice on handling the kids who just won't sit still and shut up, and they can help them to survive school politics; they are role models. Lead teachers are proven educators who work with administrators, other teachers, assistants and parents to support the needs of both students and staff. They have strong experience in their field and classroom and complement this with excellent communication and leadership skills. Their passion for learning and sharing drives them to help to raise performance standards and overall education in their schools.
Duties for lead teachers vary from district to district, but you can figure on some key common responsibilities. In their leadership capacity, they may observe and evaluate other teachers or prospects and provide feedback and direction. They may review lesson plans, professional development plans, assessments and other tools or methods that teachers use. They also may provide support through a conflict or a challenging phase for their colleagues. Of course, they may continue to actively teach themselves, but with a smaller load than other full-time teachers. They're not going to ask you to do anything that they haven't done themselves -- dozens of times.
As representatives of their departments, lead teachers often participate in planning or administrative meetings, discussions with parents or other stakeholders and conduct annual reviews. They may lead the district's or school's curriculum strategy and select appropriate resources for the students. Lead teachers contribute to a positive school culture through their efforts and ensure that their department follows high ethical and legal standards. They must ensure confidentiality and integrity of student information and anything protected by privacy legislation.
Background and Training
In order to become a certified teacher, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree. Lead teachers and all teachers may specialize in a content area such as English or math and may become department heads with enough experience. Some states require a master’s degree for some teaching positions but also may give consideration to industry or private sector experience, and teachers must pass tests to be licensed in their states. Teachers in private schools do not necessarily have to meet state requirements. Private schools have their own policies, practices and standards.
Work Schedule and Environment
Teachers work additional hours beyond the typical 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day. Most put in an additional two or three hours per day of planning, marking papers or other teaching duties. Beyond that, lead teachers' commitments involve meetings and other work outside regular hours. The environment is fast-paced and stressful, but also offers a rewarding and empowering professional experience.
Michael Firth has been writing professionally since 2000. He served as Ask the Expert blogger on CollegeRecruiter.com and self-published "The JobFind & Professional Profile Guide." Firth holds Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts in leisure and sports management from the University of British Columbia. He also holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Trent University.