In 2011 the Northern Valley Curriculum Center, the NVCC, proposed a Learning Academy for new teachers entering the Northern Valley Schools.  At that time there was much anticipation related to changes taking place throughout the educational community.  New requirements would need to be accomplished for evaluation, implementation of new standards, a new generation of assessment and data collection.

It was clear that new opportunities would need to become available for educators as they entered this new complex environment of teaching and learning.

Additionally, a growing body of data was showing that as much as 50% of teachers entering the field were leaving within 5 years.  The constant recycling of new teachers can take a toll on the educational culture of even the most successful schools.  It has been the goal of the NVCC to bring high quality professional learning to teachers to build student achievement in the classroom.  For decades a one year program has been available but there was now agreement that the success of program should be extended to three years.  In 2013 the first group of teachers completed the 3-year course of study and the associated learning opportunities.

We look forward to working with our newest 2016-17 cohort this fall.

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Three Year Program Description:

Year One:  Teachers begin the year with a 3 day workshop in August.  This includes an introduction to practical instructional skills, the development of    SGOs, effective implementation of CCSS and preparation for PARCC assessments, overview of teacher evaluation and Teach NJ.  During the school year teachers will attend 3 additional full day workshops and receive a minimum of 2 coaching visits with follow up conversations.

Instructional Skills Seminar
     The Instructional Skills Seminar consists of 2 days in the summer and 2 full days during the first year of employment in the district.  Each teacher will have at least 2 coaching visits and will be expected to discuss a performed lesson with his or her peers.
Classroom Leadership
        Both new and experienced teachers cite classroom management as a major concern.  Success classroom management is a result of classroom leadership.  Participants in this workshop will explore strategies that support a positive emotional and physical environment and while considering the importance of rules, procedures and reinforcement.  An important thread throughout the workshop, which is indicated by the 21st Century Life and Careers Core Curriculum Standards, is teaching students to demonstrate self-management skills.
Year Two:  The second year can be as precarious as the first for teachers new to a school district.  The new teacher cohort will continue to interact with peers throughout the school year.  Three full day workshops will be included in year two.  Additionally, scheduled meetings around current educational trends will be available at various afterschool times across the school year.

Assessment:  Strategies for Design
Classroom assessment has been shown to be one of the most powerful factors for enhancing student learning.  This 2 day workshop will provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on their use of assessments and examine a continuum of assessments to affect student learning.  Participants will work with colleagues to enhance expertise in designing assessments that provide the critical evidence that students really understand the important ideas and processes contained in the curriculum.  This workshop will provide educators the opportunity to boost their assessment literacy and impact.

Student Collaboration:  Supporting Success with CCSS  
The Common Core has an unspoken element of collaboration and team work among students.  This can be the most difficult aspect of an inquiry-based process.  Effective use of Cooperative Learning Strategies will prevent the pitfalls which are inherently possible in “group work” and ensure that all students are accountable for their learning.  Researchers and practitioners alike recognize many diverse benefits of Cooperative Learning including higher reasoning skills, retention, time on task, motivation, and social support;  all contributing to an increase in student achievement.  Participants will be immersed in Cooperative Learning opportunities as they review research, theory, procedures, skills and practical applications of a variety of structures.

One Elective from the Professional Learning Catalog
Year Three:    The third year provides for further collaboration around key instructional strategies and practices.   The importance of differentiated instruction, as well as effective questioning will be a focus.  Additionally, teachers will engage in an independent action research project across the school year.  The findings of this action research will be shared in the spring, as teachers celebrate their graduation from this program.

Asking Better Questions
The year-end goal for students is mastery of the skills defined in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Effective questioning is an integral tool for monitoring learning and adjusting instruction to improve student achievement. This workshop is the perfect opportunity for teachers who are continually seeking to enhance their essential questioning skills. Teachers will reflect on the how, when and why of questions in their classrooms. Models of questioning strategies, engaging activities, and empowering examples will assist teachers with classroom discourse and assessment.   

Meeting Students Where they Are & Strategies for Growth
With the new goal of college and career readiness for all students, skills in differentiating instruction become a non-negotiable strategy. Differentiated Instruction recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to education does not offer the necessary learning opportunities needed for all students to succeed in the classroom. Participants will learn about the key elements of differentiated instruction, and they will have the opportunity to design and share differentiated instruction experiences. Resources, demonstrations, and technology solutions will be included in this workshop.

Action Research  & Academy Graduation

One Elective from the Professional Learning Catalog

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