By Dr. Chrissi Miles
Effective teams are fueled by a shared purpose that creates impact. It is not enough to explore what we do and how we do it: we must fundamentally be driven by an understanding of why.
Simon Sinek states: “Leading means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.” Plainly, leadership does not mean being in charge, but rather taking care of those within your charge—be it education professionals, students, or the communities we serve.
The NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues (PDII) Division is committed to igniting this energy, carrying it forward, and inspiring communities to learn and lead with us, side-by-side.
The PDII Division seeks to improve and enrich society through public education. We create experiences that cultivate enhanced professional practice, promote organizing around educational issues, and foster the development of community leadership. As we conceptualize, design, and implement our work, we continually ask one another:
- In what ways does our work enhance members’ professional practice?
- In what ways does our work intentionally organize members around meaningful educational issues?
- In what ways does our work lead members to take equitable, just, and impactful action?
To that end, here’s where we begin:
NJEA Convention will amplify issues of advocacy, organizing, and enhancing professional practice. Keynotes focusing on the power of seeing one’s identity and history reflected in the curriculum will include national treasure LeVar Burton, deaf-activist Nyle DiMarco, and 1619 Project author, Nikole Hannah Jones. We’ll elevate student activism and leadership with March for Our Lives’ David Hogg, Time magazine’s “Kid of the Year” Orion Jean, and transgender-rights activist and Disney Marvel Comic-star, Rebekah Bruesehoff. Highlighted sessions on labor will capture the power and promise of organizing.
Workshops on Amistad, Holocaust, LGBTQIA+, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and persons with disabilities curriculum inclusion are infused across the convention program and highlighted in our new NJEA Consortium space. Additionally, educator self-care is prioritized with guided meditation, healing through the arts, and baby-goat yoga in our expanded Wellness area. “Bah-maste.”
Booksmiles, a member-led nonprofit on a mission to “irrigate book deserts” will distribute to members over 10,000 representative books purchased from independent, Black-owned bookstores.
PDII Conference Series
Our PDII Conference series will weave together themes of wellness, equity, advocacy, organizing, and enhancing professional practice. Each conference will include keynote and workshop sessions focused on developing instructional practice, special and gifted education, teacher leadership, healing, and educational support professional (ESP) issues. Consortium-sponsored sessions will further the knowledge, skills, and understanding of teaching the truth. Hosting and participatory practices will complement each conference, creating intentional space to amplify member voices and strengthen networks.
Professional Learning and Programs
County and local professional learning opportunities continue in both in-person and virtual formats. A statewide virtual “Year of Healing” series brings opportunities to develop understanding of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), social-emotional learning, healing practices, and inclusive curricula.
Our Teacher Leader Academy program’s third cohort is actively developing understanding of what it means to lead from within the profession in ways that impact the larger education system.
Our ACCESS program (A Community Collective for Equitable and Sustainable Schools) continues to foster environments that build a thriving community.
The PDII team advocates for equitable, just and impactful policy with the New Jersey Department of Education and State Board of Education. Our public comment collection tool ensures amplification of member and community voices on a variety of issues including standards and assessment, certification, recruitment and retention,
Dr. Chrissi Miles is the director of NJEA’s Professional Development and Instructional Issues Division. For more information, questions, concerns or cries of outrage, email Dr. Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.