Preservice teachers can take steps to become teacher leaders even before they land their first job.

What makes the difference between a good teacher and a great one? Knowing your content is important, but having strong leadership skills can tip the scales from mediocrity to excellence. The best time to begin practicing being a teacher leader is during your preservice years. This gives you a chance to practice who you will become in an environment that cultivates both discovery and practice (Tomlinson, 2010). By practicing leadership skills, you can begin to view yourself not only as a teacher, but also as a leader with the capacity to guide and direct others.

This article highlights a collaborative preservice teacher leadership experience between three teacher certification candidates who were enrolled in their final semester of student teaching and three of their professors (us and one of our colleagues). We chose the preservice teacher participants based on perceptions of potential leadership attributes, with students representing three of the programs within Texas Woman’s University (TWU) College of Education (general education, special education, and bilingual education/English as a Second Language). The preservice teachers collaborated with us to create and lead a panel presentation for high school students interested in education careers during a breakout session at the Future Educators Association® (FEA) 2010 national conference in San Antonio, Texas. Creating this presentation gave the preservice teachers the chance to learn leadership skills that, in turn, gave them the confidence, tools, and encouragement to serve as teacher leaders. Here’s how it worked.

The presentation

After we selected the participants, we held a series of meetings with them, both face-to-face and online. During each session, we mentored students by offering suggestions, feedback, resources, and advice. In addition, we provided technological

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