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Building STEM Teacher Leadership

Reflections by the STEM teacher leader community on opportunities and gaps in STEM teacher leader development efforts


Definitions for Key Terms

This resource defines its key terms as follows.

STEM refers to the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including sub-disciplines and the integration of more than one of these disciplines. It also refers to practices and habits of mind related to engaging with the STEM subjects. This resource refers to discipline-specific STEM (e.g., STEM teacher leaders working together to improve math instruction), integrated STEM (e.g., teaching two or more STEM disciplines through the same activity or experience), and STEM practice.

STEM teacher leaders are Pre-K – 12 teachers who have formal responsibilities outside their own classroom for improving STEM programming and supporting fellow educators. In this resource, we focus primarily on STEM teacher leadership as part of formal job responsibilities within schools and districts. STEM teacher leaders typically have full- or part-time positions dedicated to teacher leader responsibilities, or are otherwise compensated for that role. Some STEM teacher leaders may also be recognized as “master teachers” for their teaching excellence, and some may lead in other venues and contexts—including as policy advocates at national and state levels. However, this resource focuses on STEM teacher leaders whose job involves supporting STEM-related improvement in the schools and districts where they work.

Examples of STEM teacher leader responsibilities in schools and districts may include, but are not limited to:

  • Coaching fellow teachers and modeling effective STEM instructional practices
  • Designing and delivering STEM professional development
  • Serving as peer observers and/or evaluators
  • Interpreting data and facilitating school improvement
  • Managing STEM program implementation
  • Developing STEM instructional materials
  • Conducting outreach to stakeholders and partners

Teacher leader programs are programs that directly support the development or work of teacher leaders who have responsibility outside an individual classroom for fostering improvement in their schools, districts, states, and/or the larger teaching profession. These programs are distinct from professional development focused on helping current teachers develop their instructional practice.