Early Career Leadership Fellows Initiative Continues to Develop Leaders


The National Education Association (NEA) and the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC) in a collaborative effort created the Early Career Leadership Fellow (ECLF) initiative that is supporting early career educators to grow as leaders and consider leadership in their association.

There are 60 educators, most within the first five years in the profession, taking part in the 2017-18 cohort. Fellows attended a national kickoff meeting in Las Vegas in mid-October where they were joined by coaches from each association as well as their union president. The Fellows examined the Teacher Leadership Institute (www.teacherleadershipinstitute.org/) competencies, investigated the 3 Frames of Unionism that include Industrial, Professional and Social Justice (www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvrfHlDzV7I) and reflected on their own leadership journey during the training.

The 2017-18 ECLF participants from across the country represent the following associations:

  • The Forsyth County Association of Educators (North Carolina)
  • Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (California)
  • Poudre Education Association (Colorado)
  • Salem Keizer Education Association (Oregon)
  • San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel (Texas)
  • Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association (California)

During the past several months, Fellows engaged five other early career educators within their district in “Sounding Board” conversations. The goal was for the Fellows to learn more from colleagues about their experiences, their hopes and the supports they feel they need to be successful. From these conversations, Fellows are developing a Leadership Engagement and Action Plan (LEAP) to address an issue that matters to early career educators in their local.  Fellows will reconvene April 21-23, 2018 for their second national meeting, this time at the NEA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

This important work couldn’t come at a more crucial time for public education.  A major generational shift in the teaching field is underway with approximately 2.25 million educators entering the profession between 2015 and 2021.  (Source, National Education Association).

“We want to see early career teachers committed to their local, the state and to NEA at large,” says Andrea Prejean, NEA Director of Teacher Quality. “That commitment should not just be around bread and butter issues, but also on professional issues and social justice. We’ve had this focus on the three frames of unionism for a long time, but many of our locals have been stuck trying to figure out what engaging members in all three might look like. By working with this group of teachers, we believe their energy and efforts will have an impact on helping solve those challenges.”

The program has been in place for three years and was recently featured by NEA in their publication NEA Today.

CEC Senior Director Mary McDonald indicates that teacher leadership initiatives are not always linked to the local association. “We believe this initiative will be able to bring emerging leaders into relevant association work that they are passionate about and has accomplished just that during the first two years of the program,” she says.

This is the third year of the ECLF collaborative, which has impacted hundreds of educators around the country. To learn more about the ECLF Collaborative, visit these links:

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