Schools employ lead teachers in a variety of situations. An elementary school might use a designated lead as the curriculum coordinator for a specific subject, such as reading. Alternatively, the lead teacher might serve in the absence of an on-site principal. Daycare centers often designate lead teachers to create age- and developmentally-appropriate materials for children.
The education of a daycare lead teacher varies. Some daycare centers require only a high school diploma and minimal training, while others require a degree in early childhood education. The lead teacher is responsible for making short- and long-range lesson plans that fit in with the school’s curriculum. She keeps track of supplies and creates a friendly learning environment. The teacher works closely with the students and gives parents frequent progress reports. If she has aides or assistants, the lead teacher directs their daily activities.
An elementary lead teacher may have a number of tasks assigned to her along with her regular classroom duties. Lead teachers often assist with discipline and scheduling. They serve as the site administrator in the absence of the principal. Scheduling activities is often a task assigned to lead teachers. The lead teacher assumes a leadership role in district professional development planning, often serving as a building liaison for planning and scheduling professional activities. In the higher elementary grades, each subject matter may have a lead teacher who visits individual classrooms daily to give lessons in her particular subject.
Some schools designate experienced resource room teachers as the special education lead teacher. This individual is responsible for coordinating the individual education plans, or IEPs, of the special education students in the building. This lead teacher manages any crisis that arises with student behavior and works closely with students to make sure they understand what teachers expect of them. She monitors all referrals and sets up meetings for IEPs with administrators, classroom teachers and parents. Additionally, she coordinates any required student testing with the guidance counselor.
Lead teacher pay is often a stipend added to the teacher’s regular salary, and the amount varies, depending on the extra work required, the experience and training of the lead teacher, and the school district's salary schedule. For example, lead teachers in New York City earned annual stipends of $10,710 over their regular teaching salaries during the 2011-2012 school year. These teachers provided five days of professional training to staff members prior to the school year and an additional four hours of professional development per month after school hours. As another example, the annual salaries of preschool lead teachers in Park Hill School District in Missouri ranged between $27,395 and $38,252 for the 2012-2013 school year, compared to $24,221 to $33,095 for other teachers in the district.
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- New York City Department of Education: Lead Teacher (2011-2012)
- Park Hill (Missouri) School District: 2012-2013 Preschool Lead Teacher Salary Schedule
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