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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Does Your Union Serve You Well?

What do you expect from the teachers' union? What are your long-held beliefs about unions in general?

In the last five or so years, my understanding of the teachers' unions has changed dramatically. For a long time I thought of the union as mostly the group that negotiates contracts and troubleshoots difficult situations, but now I see the union as much more than that--it's a group that can serve you well with regard to your professional growth and service to children.

How can you access the union supports to assist the work you do?

First, know your union. Check out the website, attend a meeting, understand your contract, read the literature, and look for what the union has to offer you.

Next, if possible, get involved. Join a union course, apply for a grant, attend a workshop, participate in a conference, listen to a lecture, or contribute to a committee.

After that, use your voice. If you have ideas or questions for the union, speak up.

This year, after a long hiatus from local union service, I've signed on to be a representative again. I'm taking this role with the hopes that I can serve the union membership well by communicating opportunities the union provides for teacher growth and development. I want teachers to be able to take advantage of the many contractual and organizational benefits that exist to develop their craft in efficient, deep, and low cost ways.

I'm looking forward to working with the local board to serve the teachers in our district as well. I'm also hoping that my work with the Teacher Leadership Initiative will broaden my ability to serve teachers locally and via my PLN so that we can all affect education in ways that truly better the profession and the work we do for children.

I'm excited to see where this journey will take me. If you have thoughts, ideas, or questions, let me know.