In many schools, teachers who are effective educators can act as lead teachers. These experienced individuals work as an arm of the administration. They ensure that newer teachers receive the guidance and support they need to become effective educators. In some schools, lead teachers do not work in the classroom, but as a part of administration. They spend all of their time observing, evaluating and assisting new teachers. In most schools, lead teachers continue with their classroom roles and devote some of their time to new-teacher assistance.
Lead teachers generally observe new teachers. The purpose of the evaluation depends upon the school district. Some schools ask their lead teachers to observe merely to identify areas of strength and weakness, and to make suggestions to help the fledgling teacher improve. Other schools consider lead teacher evaluations to be part of the teacher evaluation process and use the information when making hiring and firing decisions.
Lead teachers engage in advising activities following teacher observations. When they review the information they gathered during observation, they compliment the teacher's strengths and share suggestions for improvement. During the advising stage of their job, lead teachers often make specific recommendations. They also provide the teachers with materials necessary to implement the suggested curriculum modification.
Lead teachers work as a mentor to newer teachers, providing guidance and suggestions as they begin their teaching. To fulfil their mentorship duties, lead teachers must allow new teachers to observe them. This gives the new teacher the opportunity to learn from their experience. They may also take over the new teacher's class on occasion, and model effective instructional practices. This allows the new teacher to see how to integrate these practices into their lessons, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
Lead teachers also work in a counselling capacity. They offer a sensitive ear for new teachers overwhelmed by the demands associated with teaching. It is important, yet difficult, for lead teachers to counsel at times because of the evaluative function of the job. When lead teachers engage in counselling, they must separate their supportive listening from their judging of the teacher's overall quality. Everything a teacher shares with a lead teacher in seeking counselling is confidential, unless it directly impacts the health and safety of students or others within the school community.