Yesterday, a Sociology major from Ohio State University interviewed me for her Sociology of Educational Philosophy Class. One of the questions she asked me was about my vision for how this organization can affect the future of education. This question led to a discussion of our recent state convention and our theme at the convention – Writing the next chapter.
My vision, I told her, is that we be a proactive organization that recognizes the changes in our society and how those changes impact the way our students learn, and then use our professional knowledge and experience to shape the learning environments of our students. Too often, we are forced into a reactive mode because of our political circumstances, and we end up looking like barriers to progress in education when in reality, we are the ones who have the solutions. We are the experts in the field. We know our students better than anyone. We are in the classrooms to experience what works and what doesn’t work. We need create our vision of education reform. We need to write the next chapter and then work to make it happen.
Before writing the next chapter, we need to have a thorough understanding of current reality and then reflect upon what we need to do as individuals and as OFT locals to deal with this reality. That is what we started doing at convention this year. Throughout the convention, we looked at different topics ranging from a reflection on ourselves as public employees to changes in how people communicate to social issues to education issues. We did more than just listen to people talk about these topics though. We had discussions with the speakers and looked at how we can have an impact in these areas. We examined how we can social media to spread a message. We discussed using issues like school funding or value added to mobilize members. We explored how to connect with the community through issues like health care or the effects of budget cuts on local communities. We talked with a parent activist about how to work with parents to help our students succeed. We looked at ways to build our worksite leader structure to strengthen our locals. We found ways to make us stronger and more effective.
The next step is to actually start writing that next chapter – to take everything we know and turn it into what we want it to be. This involves examining and maybe changing our structures within our locals to allow for effective work to be done. It involves planning around issues and then following through on those plans. It involves setting goals for how we envision the future, then making sure we are equipped with the right professional development, knowledge, and skills for making that vision our next reality.
I challenge you to begin this work and to share your work. I want to hear your successes, your struggles, your challenges, your solutions, and your concerns. Together we will write the next chapter.