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The basics

For the full scoop (and how-to info), read Teacherpreneurs (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

For readers

What's a teacherpreneur?

Teacherpreneurs continue to teach while having the time, space, and incentives to incubate and execute big pedagogical and policy ideas that improve public schools. These classroom experts devote time to both teaching students and leading innovations in practice or policy. Their reach extends past their classrooms, benefiting students throughout their schools, districts, and beyond. How are they paid? Glad you asked.

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How does a teacherpreneur differ from an education entrepreneur?

Some treat the terms as interchangeable. For example, Jessie Arora at EdSurge applies "teacherpreneurs" to those leading from the classroom (like Ryan Kinser and Angela Estrella) as well as innovative teachers who have left the classroom (like Adam Bellow).

At CTQ, we find tremendous potential in teacherpreneur roles that allow teachers to continue working with students even as they advocate for and implement big changes in policy and practice.

Why? Teacherpreneurs bridge two worlds when they both teach and lead. They appear poised and polished in a conference room or district office, but make no mistake: students' voices ring in their ears, students' faces are fresh in their minds, and their colleagues' struggles are close at hand.

These teachers are invested, informed, and eager to contribute to solutions—without leaving behind the students and profession they love. And that's where we see the promise and the power of the concept. To quote Renee Moore, teachers should never be "afraid to get paid"—and we are looking forward to the day when the highest-paid anybody in a school system is a practicing teacher. But for the time being, can't we at least create roles that allow teachers to lead without leaving?

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What are examples of ways teacherpreneurs lead?

So, what do we mean when we say that teacherpreneurs "lead without leaving"?

Try on one (or more) of these for size:

  • Designing schools to better serve communities
  • Constructing new assessments that show more about what students know and can do
  • Connecting universities with K-12 schools
  • Helping teachers learn from one another
  • Funneling community resources into schools
  • Developing teacher evaluation rubrics
  • Mentoring preservice and early-career teachers
  • Advocating for policies that will improve teaching and learning
  • Critiquing and improving new educational technologies
  • Writing books, blogs, and articles about policy and pedagogy

See more examples of past and present teacherpreneurs' work here.

CTQ, a small nonprofit, has been partnering with districts to "buy out" half of teachers' time to meet our organizational needs—and we've reaped substantial benefits. Several CTQ teacherpreneurs have worked to ensure that teachers have some say in the design and roll-out of new evaluation systems. Others have focused on pragmatic innovations like Common Core implementation, global education, and school redesign. We have a committed, talented full-time staff, but adding teacherpreneurs to our team has boosted the impact, quality, and relevance of our work. 

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How do students benefit?

This is the most important question of all: the one that drives the teacherpreneur concept. 

American policymakers have typically focused on two strategies for improving the quality of teaching: 1) hiring teachers assumed to be "brighter" and 2) firing teachers assumed to be "bad."

We've ignored a rich resource: hundreds of thousands of committed, talented teachers already at work in our schools. Year after year, we funnel teaching talent along two paths: classroom teaching or (for those who seek improved compensation or "career advancement") full-time administrative roles.

What if an expert teacher could spend part of her time teaching the fortunate students assigned to her—and part of it introducing successful strategies to other teachers? Her impact would extend past the walls of her classroom and school, just as it would if she spent part of her day teaching and part advising policymakers to make changes that would better serve kids. Meanwhile, she'd be less likely to abandon the classroom for full-time administration or a career outside of teaching.

Imagine a school system rich with teacherpreneur roles. A student there could benefit from...

  • Teachers mentored by accomplished colleagues co-hired by schools and teacher prep programs
  • Education policies influenced by teacherpreneurs' classroom expertise
  • Curricula and assessments developed by teacherpreneurs rather than textbook companies or consultants
  • Instructional innovations (hands-on science lab, international exchange program, internship, etc.) developed by teacherpreneurs
  • Community partnerships brokered by teacherpreneurs who matched schools' needs with local resources
  • Expert teachers who otherwise would have taken administrative positions to advance their careers

Pretty exciting, right?

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What could a teacherpreneur's schedule look like?

It depends. (Maddening answer, we know. But true.) A few variations we've seen:

  • Teaching on Monday, Wednesday, and half of Friday; working on other projects on Tuesday, Thursday, and half of Friday
  • Teaching mornings; working on other projects every afternoon
  • Teaching more or less depending on travel schedules
  • Teaching Monday to Wednesday mornings; working on other projects Wednesday afternoon to Friday
  • Teaching full-time for one semester; working on other projects full-time for one semester

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Who pays the teacherpreneur?

The answer to this question can vary greatly. 

Some teacherpreneur positions may be wholly district-funded. Others may be co-sponsored with partners:

  • Other school districts
  • State or federal department(s) of education
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Businesses
  • Individual, corporate, or foundation donors
  • Other local, state, or federal government agencies

CTQ, a small nonprofit, has been partnering with districts to "buy out" half of teachers' time to meet our organizational needs—and we've reaped substantial benefits. Several CTQ teacherpreneurs have worked to ensure that teachers have some say in the design and roll-out of new evaluation systems. Others have focused on pragmatic innovations like Common Core implementation, global education, and school redesign. We have a committed, talented full-time staff, but adding teacherpreneurs to our team has boosted the impact, quality, and relevance of CTQ's work. 

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I'm not a teacher. How can I get involved?

Thanks for asking! Here are just a few ideas:

  • Administrators can encourage teachers to take on leadership roles within and outside of your school. What if you sponsored a Teacherpreneurs study group for teacher leaders? Best possible outcome: Your school and faculty become known as innovators—and your students benefit from the increased fervor for the profession.
  • District leaders can support formal teacherpreneur roles or partner with others to do so. Tasked with a new evaluation system? Inquire about whether teachers can play a role as peer evaluators or mentors paid with district funds. Staring down Common Core implementation? Consider creative funding arrangements that position expert teachers as guides in implementing the Core.
  • Policymakers can help craft legislation that creates and supports teacherpreneur roles.
  • Parents and engaged citizens can donate copies of the book to local schools and school leaders and start conversations and book clubs to discuss ideas.

And anyone who values teacher leadership is welcome to join our online community, the CTQ Collaboratory. There, community members learn from and with teachers leaders, and discuss ways to better support teacherpreneurs and increase their reach.

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What are people saying about Teacherpreneurs?

Here's how a few early readers have responded:

“Every person who is involved in education should read Teacherpreneurs. People involved in education outside the classroom should read it twice.”
—Anthony J. Mullen, 2009 National Teacher of the Year

“It is at times poignant, in realistically considering this sacred profession's past and present. But, it is also genuinely powerful, personal—and, most importantly, relentlessly hopeful.”
—Jason Glass, Superintendent, Eagle County Schools, Colorado

“Hillsborough County Public Schools believes that teacherpreneurs are essential elements of a successful career ladder plan. Empowering our most effective teachers to take on broader roles should be a goal of every district seeking reform.”
—MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida

“Filled with rich narratives and research, this book is a must read for teachers, administrators, and researchers, as well as education policy leaders who must invest in teaching to build the profession-wide expertise that our students need and deserve.”
—Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University

"Let me repeat, Teacherpreneurs is an important, practical, and hopeful book."
—Katherine Boles, Senior Lecturer on Education and Director, Learning & Teaching Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“By acknowledging that the teacher is the key element in authentic school improvement, Teacherpreneurs offers a roadmap for much-needed change.”
—Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association

“I like this book because it says less about shortcomings of teachers or teaching and more about solutions that innovative teachers offer to make teaching one of the noble professions.”
—Pasi Sahlberg, Director General, Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation, Finland

“The real-life stories of Teacherpreneurs show us the power of this hybrid model. What better way to support peers and navigate the challenges confronting public schools and our students.”
—Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

“This book celebrates and illuminates the direction of travel we must take....It articulates and demonstrates a roadmap and will motivate many more to take this journey.”
—Tony Mackay, CEO, Centre for Strategic Education and Co-Director, Global Education Leaders Program (Australia)

“We should be grateful to Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, and Alan Wieder for introducing us to these ‘teacherpreneurs,' whose stories are featured and whose work will move you. These gifted individuals clearly have the ability to inspire, encourage, motivate, influence, and educate other teachers.”
—Anthony S. Bryk, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Teacherpreneurs presents a vision of a career in which effective teachers shape the policies that determine the classroom environment in which they and their colleagues teach.”
—Arthur E. Wise, President Emeritus, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Chair, CTQ’s Board of Directors

But we want to know what YOU think. Let us know:

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What's been produced since the book?

Teachers leaders connected with CTQ are constantly innovating, connecting, and sharing their ideas. Explore CTQ blogs and resources to see more teacherpreneurism in action.

Here are a few teacherpreneur-related posts and resources to explore:

And for recent news and events highlighting teacher leadership work, visit our news page.

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Where can I discuss this book and share my end-of-chapter responses?

  • Become part of CTQ's Collaboratory—a free online community where you can engage in productive dialogue about teacher leadership. To get started, click on the big orange Join button on our homepage.

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Where can I find the links referenced in Teacherpreneurs?

Right here. Throughout the book are QR codes that take readers to related multimedia content when scanned with Microsoft Tag. Here's a list of those links:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 5:

Chapter 8:

Chapter 9:

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How are groups using the book?

A few examples...

  • Education professors are building course units around it.
  • School districts are leading professional-development discussions on its core concepts.
  • Teacher groups are using end-of-chapter activities to discuss their own leadership development.
  • Conference participants are attending workshops that focus on individual chapters.
  • Organizations and universities are hosting book talks and author Q&A's.

How are YOU using the book to connect with colleagues?

Tell us on Twitter using the hashtag #teacherpreneurs, or email us at

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How can I contact the authors or featured teachers for interviews or speaking engagements?

It's easy: Fill out this form and we'll get back to you within 24 hours.

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I want to learn more about the featured teachers!

A few examples...