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Literacy Teaching and Teachers

Open-Access Practice

Cultivating Literacy Leadership Among Future Literacy Professionals

Laurie A. Sharp, Associate Professor and Dean of University College, Tarleton State University, TX
Rebekah Piper, Assistant Professor of Literacy, Texas A&M University–San Antonio
Roberta D. Raymond, Assistant Professor of Reading and Language Arts, University of Houston–Clear Lake, TX


  • To promote literacy leadership among future teachers and instructional leaders through varied learning experiences during teacher preparation

What Is It?

Literacy leaders are committed to enhancing literacy learning among all students by being advocates of the profession who continually seek to improve professional practices among self and colleagues.

Why Is It Effective?

Novice literacy teachers and instructional leaders encounter myriad challenges associated with an increasingly complex profession. To navigate these challenges effectively, future literacy professionals must receive specific training in literacy leadership during teacher preparation. Future literacy professionals must develop extensive expertise with literacy content and pedagogy and learn how to institute a positive and nurturing culture of literacy within their classrooms (Swanson & Da Ros-Voseles, 2009).

Beyond the classroom, future literacy professionals must also learn how to create support networks among colleagues (Broemmel & Swaggerty, 2017), navigate micropolitics productively (Tang, Cheng, & Wong, 2016), and engage in collaborative professional learning experiences that enhance individual and collective teacher efficacy (Ciampa & Gallagher, 2016; Steeg & Lambson, 2015).

Furthermore, future literacy professionals must acquire skills to stay informed about evidence-based best practices in literacy instruction (Smith, 2006) and understand how to advocate for a literacy curriculum that is tailored to meet the specialized academic, cultural, and social needs of all students (Wepner, Gómez, Cunningham, Rainville, & Kelly, 2016).

How Do You Do It?

Literacy teacher educators cultivate literacy leadership among future literacy professionals incrementally throughout teacher preparation programming. By embedding a variety of learning activities throughout coursework and field experiences in a coherent manner, literacy teacher educators have multiple occasions to develop and refine literacy leadership behaviors, knowledge, and skills among preservice professionals.

Well-designed learning activities promote deep insights into literacy leadership and provide frequent opportunities for preservice professionals to apply these understandings in authentic contexts with guidance from strong mentors. Most important, literacy teacher educators must be literacy leaders themselves who maintain currency and relevance with literacy leadership practices.

How Do You Start?

Literacy teacher educators are primarily responsible for cultivating literacy leadership among future literacy professionals. A few ways to focus upon this area are as follows:

  • Coordinate and facilitate structured professional learning activities, such as book clubs, seminars, and workshops, where preservice and practicing literacy professionals may learn alongside one another.
  • Design and embed activities in existing courses that foster preservice teachers' development of essential literacy leadership skills, such as ethical reasoning and multiple perspective-taking, and provide subsequent opportunities for preservice teachers to practice applying these skills by analyzing real-life teaching situations.
  • Engage in and model literacy leadership practices, such as becoming an active member in literacy-focused organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels and participating in continuous professional learning.
  • Establish a supportive network of institution-based literacy teacher educators that meets regularly to discuss and evaluate current literacy leadership efforts.
  • Interact with a wide range of stakeholders affiliated with literacy teacher preparation, such as community members, instructional faculty members in academic disciplines beyond literacy, preparation program administrators and staff members, and school district personnel to identify ways in which they may support literacy leadership.
  • Use coaching techniques to improve the fidelity and promote the generalization of effective literacy leadership practices among preservice literacy professionals.
  • Use social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to develop professional networks, stay informed of current legislation and education trends, and share literacy-focused information locally and globally.


Broemmel, A.D., & Swaggerty, E.A. (2017). "I've tried and I've died this year": First-year teachers reflect on literacy reform. The New Educator, 13(1), 41–52. doi:10.1080/1547688X.2015.1094712

Ciampa, K., & Gallagher, T.L. (2016). Teacher collaborative inquiry in the context of literacy education: Examining the effects on teacher self-efficacy, instructional and assessment practices. Teachers and Teaching, 22(7), 858–878. doi:10.1080/13540602.2016.1185821

Smith, D. (2006). On the shoulders of giants: Leaders in the field of literacy as teacher advocates. Language Arts Journal of Michigan, 22(1), 63–68. doi:10.9707/2168-149X.1186

Steeg, S.M., & Lambson, D. (2015). Collaborative professional development: One school's story. The Reading Teacher, 68(6), 473–478. doi:10.1002/trtr.1338

Swanson, M., & Da Ros-Voseles, D. (2009). Dispositions: Encourage young children to become life-long readers. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 37(2), 30–38.

Tang, S.Y.F., Cheng, M.M.H., & Wong, A.K.Y. (2016). The preparation of pre-service student teachers' competence to work in schools. Journal of Education for Teaching, 42(2), 149–162. doi:10.1080/02607476.2016.1143143

Wepner, S.B., Gómez, D.W., Cunningham, K.E., Rainville, K.N., & Kelly, C. (2016). Literacy leadership in changing schools: 10 keys to successful professional development. Teachers College Press.