Candidates for the teacher leader endorsement in the NJEA Teacher Leader Academy will now be eligible to earn up to 12 graduate credits through Thomas Edison State University (TESU). This follows several months of review through TESU’s Professional Review Program.
Depending on local collective bargaining agreements, these 12 credits should increase the possibility of both tuition reimbursement and movement on the salary guide. The Teacher Leader Academy is currently in its first year of operation. A second cohort of the program is scheduled to begin in early 2021, with applications being available late this summer.
Since legislation was passed in 2015, NJEA had been in the lead at working with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to create a teacher leader endorsement to be attached to an instructional certificate.
Teacher leadership offers a paradigm shift that not only allows teachers to support their peers from a nonevaluative position, but also to influence the entire system. Teacher leadership gives educators a voice at the decision-making table on instructional issues at the school and/or district level.
At its core, the work of teacher leaders is to build the capacity of
Meeting weekly over the course of a year, and occasionally on Saturdays, the core of the program focuses on regional study groups in which candidates for the endorsement identify their own strengths and areas where they want to challenge themselves.
With those areas identified, each candidate leads the learning of groups of seven or eight other teachers working with them on the endorsement. With the support of a group facilitator supplied by the NJEA Teacher Leader Academy, the study groups are designed to use feedback from other participants to create an incubator for leadership.
The program emphasizes candidates developing the ability to walk the challenging line of acting as both peer and expert with their colleagues. Other components of the program include occasional meetings of the full cohort of 35 participants in Trenton, as well as a clinical experience designed to meet the individual goals of each candidate.
In the period of social distancing requirements to quell the spread of COVID-19, meetings of the full cohort of participants and regional study groups are being held in virtual spaces.