How to Lead a Schoolwide “Team of Leaders”: Tools for Principals

by | June 9, 2016

Team composite photoIn the most successful Opportunity Culture® schools, principals lead a team of multi-classroom leaders—strong teachers who lead small teams and are accountable for outcomes in each grade and/or subject—to ensure instructional excellence schoolwide. Successful principals say this schoolwide “team of leaders” approach is crucial to their students’ success and to providing teachers with deep support throughout the school.

A new set of tools from Public Impact® can help other principals emulate their approach.

Leading a team of teacher-leaders who in turn support and guide all of a school’s teachers is a new experience for most principals—a far cry from scrambling to observe, coach, and lead dozens of teachers individually. Because multi-classroom leaders can significantly affect the success of their teaching teams, building their leadership skills fast is crucial. Even the strongest teachers need coaching to excel as team leaders. Principals in any school with empowered teacher-leaders will find the tools helpful.

The new tools are just a start—Public Impact® will add more later this year. This initial set of tools covers some of the needs that successful principals highlighted:

  • Action Planner for Principals in Opportunity Culture® Schools: The planner covers the actions essential for an Opportunity Culture® principal throughout the year, breaking the year into four season. Each season has a 1-page checklist that includes linked tools to lead a school of empowered teachers focused on a culture of excellence for all.
  • Standing Agendas for Leading an Instructional Team of Leaders: Examples and options for standing agendas for meetings of a schoolwide Instructional Team of Leaders, including the school’s multi-classroom leaders. Agendas cover improving the data-driven instructional leadership of MCLs and professional development of MCLs.
  • School Roles and Responsibilities Chart: This tool helps principals clarify and keep track of the school’s multi-classroom leaders and their teams, charting accountability, time spent teaching and leading, and specific responsibilities.
  • Organizational Chart Template: This tool creates a visual snapshot of the school’s instructional leadership and teams, simplifying communication of major roles.


In addition, for principals who join schools already using Opportunity Culture® models:


Principals who excel in Opportunity Culture® models will eventually have opportunities to lead more than one school, teaching other principals how to lead a team of multi-classroom leaders, for more pay.

Because multi-classroom leaders can continue to teach while leading teams, providing extensive support to their teams through co-planning, coaching, co-teaching, and team collaboration, Multi-Classroom Leadership has been the most popular—and highest paid—model that Opportunity Culture® schools have used to extend the reach of their excellent teachers to more students within recurring budgets. Team teachers report positive experiences from the support they receive from their MCLs. Early Opportunity Culture® schools achieving the largest, fastest gains schoolwide had multi-classroom leaders schoolwide in core subjects.

Many thanks to the Opportunity Culture® principals and Fellows who shared their stories and offered their advice, and to Carnegie Corporation of New York for funding the tools’ creation.

Keep Reading

Prep for the Testing Homestretch with Data: March Webinar

As schools prepare for end-of-year testing, how can teachers and teaching team leaders use data to motivate students and teachers and celebrate learning growth? Join us for a free, 45-minute webinar on March 14, led by Erin Burns Mehigan, a former teacher-leader...

Creating Daily, Job-Embedded Support for Special Education Teachers

How can schools provide stronger support for special education teachers? Schools we work with generally start their strategic staffing planning by creating small Multi-Classroom Leader™ teams—grade- or subject-based teaching teams led a teacher with a record of...

All Hands on Deck in 2024 for Students and Teachers!

In the new year, we know schools and districts are going after big results for students and teachers. We’re launching into 2024 focused on helping them get and support all hands on deck! Check out our latest Opportunity Culture® Newsletter, with information on...