Today’s school leaders recognize that one person, mainly the principal, cannot adequately address the needs of all members of the school community. Many principals rely on teacher leaders to lead alongside them to further school improvement, knowing that the traditional way of thinking of school leadership as being the sole role of the principal is no longer effective or efficient. While K-12 teachers typically have a strong background in child development, psychology, and pedagogy, many lack experience in leading and facilitating adults and have little background in adult learning theory.

The purpose of this research is to determine how K-12 teacher leaders perceive the challenges of leading and facilitating adults. Working within Knowles Andragogy Adult Learning Theory, this phenomenological qualitative study analyzed eight teacher leaders in North Dakota school districts. Data was collected through open-ended interview questions and analyzed through coding the transcriptions of the interviews. The data revealed the group descriptions of the challenges that teacher leaders face when working with adults. Recurring themes included a lack of preparation for a leadership role, a lack of clarity in the role, being treated differently by colleagues, the importance of establishing trust among colleagues, a lack of evaluative feedback from administrators, frustrations regarding authentic decision making, and obstacles faced when initiating change. The goal is that this study can be utilized to inform further research in the area of teacher leader development for both school districts and higher education institutions.