I've been thinking about the potential our union holds for good teaching and learning. What I like best about my local WTA, state MTA and national NEA unions is that those organizations protect educators' ability to advocate for student welfare without repercussions. I also like that our unions bring hard working educators together to advocate for good working conditions and fair salaries. This collective voice and advocacy has the potential to move schools forward in ways that matter for all citizens especially the children we teach and serve.
It took me a long time to truly appreciate the teachers' unions. I joined without reservation because I grew up in a working class neighborhood and noticed how unions protected the rights and wages of neighbors, relatives, and friends. I knew unions were important to the average family's welfare.
Yet as a member I rarely was involved beyond the local level. I was very busy teaching and parenting, and made little time to investigate what the union had to offer my colleagues and me. Then, about ten years ago, the union reached out to me and many more. They noticed our interactions via Twitter and other social media. They heard our yearning for better educational structure, support, and vision. And they took an interest by inviting us to join union efforts and events.
I didn't realize that support was there, and now after becoming involved and taking advantage of union-driven professional learning and support classes and events, I want to encourage others to get involved sooner than later as your local, state, and national unions have avenues of good support available to you if you begin to learn about this and take advantage of it.
I suggest you start with your union's web pages. We have pages for our local, state and national unions. Make the time to look over those web pages to identify opportunities and supports which can support you as an educator. The Massachusetts Teachers' Association has multiple free professional learning events which can also help you to get the training you need to re-certify your professional license--this is very helpful.
I also suggest that you get involved in your local unions to advocate for the work conditions and fair salaries that will help you to do the good job you envision for your students. Local unions typically have lots of varied opportunities for involvement.
Further I suggest you make a regular routine of reading the union websites and receiving regular updates online.
Unions are one way that the average person can get good voice wth regard to local, state and national platforms. Our unions represent our collective voice and need, and our unions will better reflect what you want if you make the time to get involved so your voice, great ideas, and effort are noticed and heard.
In today's complex world, we need good unions, unions that protect the rights and welfare of workers who are well intentioned and willing to do the hard work to build strong communities and care.