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Boston Teacher Leadership Certificate Program


About the Program

The Boston Teacher Leadership Certificate Program offers leadership development courses for educators who hold leadership roles at the school or district level. These practice-based, graduate-level courses developed by teacher leaders in the Boston Public Schools, were designed specifically to help educators strengthen the skills they need for their instructional leadership roles. These might include:

  • Mentor, working with novice or struggling teachers
  • Team leader of a grade level, department, or data team
  • Content area leader, such as literacy coach, math facilitator or department head
  • Leadership team member, engaged in school improvement planning or strategizing for success of special populations

Leadership roles such as these offer great promise for expanding the leadership capacity of a school so that the principal is not alone in advocating and facilitating improvement; for contributing to career satisfaction and retention of accomplished teachers; and most importantly for enabling schools and districts to place their most important assets—accomplished teachers—in positions from which they can grow more accomplished teachers and make a bigger difference for students.

Why is a "Teacher Leadership Certificate" program needed?

As schools strive to accelerate student learning, they increasingly depend upon teacher leadership roles in which teachers are called upon to lead their colleagues in analyzing data, collaborating to improve instruction, participating in shared leadership structures, and ensuring current research and practices are informing the school's work. To perform these important roles effectively, teacher leaders must have a range of specialized skills, including many that lie beyond those required for effective classroom teaching. The Boston Teacher Leadership Certificate (BTLC) program was designed to support teachers to strengthen the leadership skills that schools need for improvement. At the same time, it was created to enable schools and districts to keep track of that capacity, so that these teachers' leadership skills are not just individual talents, but organizational assets that can be resources for reform.

Program Components

Our courses were designed to support teachers to strengthen essential leadership skills. The four core courses are:

Using Data

Access and collect multiple forms of data and build a repertoire of strategies for guiding teams to understand, analyze and use data in decision-making and to communicate results in ways that empower community members to envision their role in improvement.

Shared Leadership

Develop approaches for building unity of vision within a team, managing an effective and collaborative team, facilitating change, and understanding the role of individuals and teams within school and district systems.

Supporting Instruction

Apply principles of adult development while learning and practicing strategies for observing teaching, examining student work collaboratively, analyzing instruction and instructional resources, facilitating growth-oriented dialogue, and planning effective professional learning experiences.

Professional Expertise

Practice strategies for guiding team reflection in a school in order to turn individual expertise into an organizational asset, while also building skills to tap the professional knowledge base of research and professional literature and to apply that knowledge to instructional improvement.

Program Features

Core Courses*:

  • Using Data
  • Shared Leadership
  • Supporting Instruction
  • Professional Expertise

*Graduate Credit Options Available

Who can register:

All educators who hold a leadership role are eligible to participate, and are encouraged to enroll with school-based partners.

Course schedule:

36 hours over 12 weeks (fall or spring)

  • 8 evening sessions (4:30-7:30 pm)
  • 3 Saturdays (8:30 am-12:30 pm)


Courses are held on site in Boston schools and in schools beyond Boston by arrangement.

Registration Costs:

$1,000 per course, plus the cost of graduate credits

Earning a Certificate

By completing performance assessments that form the core of each course, participants can demonstrate competency and earn a course Certificate. They can earn the full BTLC Credential by completing all four courses plus role-relevant training.

Graduate Credit Options

Additionally, all courses offer the option of earning three graduate credits through UMass Boston. For more information please see the Schedule and Registration Information page. 


What difference does it make?

Read about our impact.

Read more about what teachers are saying.

Read what principals are saying.

How was the program developed?

The BTLC program was developed in 2010 as a pilot program involving Boston Public School teachers through the Boston Plan for Excellence.  In the first year, research and existing sets of leadership standards were used to outline four core areas.  Then, teams of experienced teacher leaders with keen knowledge of the true demands of their teacher leader roles were asked to consider how these core skill areas come into play in practice.  They were supported to develop courses that would allow other teachers to strengthen their skill in each core area and to prove their competence via performance-based assessments.

The Using Data course was introduced in Spring 2011, and one additional course was introduced each term through Fall 2012.  The program continues to develop, as each course session provides a new opportunity draw upon course participants' experiences to improve the course materials.  To date over 100 teachers have participated in the program as course developers, course facilitators, or course participants.

In August 2013 a Governing Board of Teachers was formed to direct the program's continued development and to safeguard its teacher-powered mission as it expands beyond the Boston Public Schools.

What are we learning?

Click here to access free tools and templates that have been developed in response to the lessons learned from our work.