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Friday, May 04, 2018

Prepping for MTA's Annual Meeting with an Open Mind

Today and tomorrow I'll attend the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) Annual Meeting. I am going there with an open mind.

It has been a strenuous and positive year on the personal and professional front. At home there have been a fair number of mostly positive, but time consuming, events. Similarly on the professional front it has been an extremely intense, but positive, year with a large number of grade-level, classroom, and system-wide initiatives and goals. The needed and desired efforts at home and at school have prompted me to take a back seat to issues and events related to the MTA and other outside education organizations. Though I continue to read what these groups have to say and support the groups from afar, I am not as attuned to the day-to-day happenings. For this reason, I am looking forward to spending the day listening to many advocate for what they believe is most important for teachers and education today.

I will hear their words against the backdrop of my current beliefs which are the following:
  • We need to continually work to uplift all schools with the conditions of excellence so that every  child has what she/he needs to have a positive experience in school, an experience that results in a top-notch, students-first, modern day education.
  • We need to ensure that schools are places where educators are treated as professionals and places that have the kind of work conditions, fair pay, and systematic structures that support the good work we're able to do to serve students and their families well.
  • We need to fight against the many groups that do not support strong public schools--the kinds of groups that don't believe in equity, inclusion, adequate financial support, and modern day education.
  • We need to strongly advocate for laws, financial support, policies, and protocols that elevate our schools, work conditions, and service to students and their families.
I am very proud to be a Massachusetts public school teacher. I believe that our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the MTA have their focus on doing what's right by teachers and schools. Of course I don't agree with every decision made by either group, but I feel welcome to voice my opinion and work towards change when I disagree. There is often debate between those two bodies and I think that debate is positive too.

There's no way that busy teachers can stand up by themselves to make significant change for what they know is right and good for students and their families. There's also no way that one teacher can have all the answers. With our union and our solidarity, we come together to advocate for what is right and good together and amongst each other. We also debate amongst ourselves as we seek to teach and learn in ways that will move us forward in ways that matter.

So today I'll listen a lot. I'll write a lot. I'll collect ideas that will forward my work. I'll ask questions. I'll look for new ways to be involved, ways that will allow me to contribute and learn too. I'll vote with my beliefs in mind. 

It will be good to step out of the day-to-day business in order to get a broader view of the work I do each day, a view from so many who have dedicated their lives to elevating, improving, and leading schools, students, and communities.