Candidates in the program are also eligible to receive 12 graduate credits through a partnership with Thomas Edison State University for this year long program.
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 their peers. With that being true, what if there were a program to prepare teacher leaders in which the participants in the program were actually the faculty? That is the question at the center of the design of the NJEA Teacher Leader Academy.
Meeting weekly over the course of a year (both face to face and virtually) 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.
There is a strong emphasis on 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 (or virtually), as well as a clinical experience designed to meet the individual goals of each candidate.