New Member Program at Summer Conference
The MTA’s New Member Committee is made up of educators who got involved in the union in a variety of ways. Some knew about unions from a young age and others stumbled upon what the MTA offers once they started teaching. We polled the members of our committee to get more insight into why they attended the New Member Program and how that has shaped their teaching practice and also their union involvement.
Here is what our committee members had to say!
Why did our committee members attend New Member Program?
The New Member Program is a FREE track through MTA’s Summer Conference for educators in their first 5 years in the profession. There are workshops for all 5 days of the conference on topics that range from the history of the union to how to get involved. The week is also packed with opportunities to network and connect with other educators from around the state.
Three of our members said they got involved because their local president recommended the program. Two others were introduced to the idea by a former participant or from a member of the committee. Mostly, they wanted to learn more about the union in a fun environment and how they could get involved.
“It sounded like a fun “teacher summer camp” and I was encouraged by past participants in my district.”
“As an undergrad, I was a student member of MTA, and really enjoyed that part of it, so I was looking forward to getting more involved in my union.”
“I attended the New Member Program because I was friendly with the union president at the time. She recommended to me that I go through the program to learn more about the union so I could get more involved at my local level. Also, the program is free!”
What was our major takeaway from New Member Program (either as a participant or presenter)?
Many of our committee members mentioned their major takeaway was the connection and camaraderie with all of the other new educators in the state who participated in the program. There are so many opportunities to network during Summer Conference’s New Member Program! Making these connections helps to reassure new members that they are not alone! New teachers across the state are facing the same kinds of speed bumps, barriers, and roadblocks.
“That there are extremely talented, creative, intelligent, and insightful MTA members who are committed to improving the collegiality, professional capacity, and personal well being of their fellow educators!”
“My major takeaway from the New Member Program was that unions are as strong as the people in them. If we don’t use our union, then we don’t really have a union.”
Another takeaway is understanding more of what the union has to offer its members. Going through the New Member Program will help new educators figure out how to safely get involved with the union and even how to read and understand their contract.
“My biggest takeaway was the importance of being an informed union member.”
“There are a lot of different ideas of what the union can do/be for people – it is important for us all to remember that we have good ideas to bring to the conversation and to allow for the possibility that each individual does not have a monopoly on being right. Additionally, it is important is that we all participate in the union to generate its strength and that we remain unified in support of each other; solidarity may be the most important principle, especially as we confront so many anti-union, anti-public education forces in the coming months and years.”
How has the New Member Program made us better educators?
Attending the New Member Program has given the participants and our committee members more confidence as educators: confidence to present to peers, confidence in our own pedagogy, and confidence in our decision making in the classroom and professionally.
“It’s provided me with an incredibly rich professional learning network that I can go to at any time for trustworthy resources, critical feedback, or necessary encouragement.”
“Gosh, I really can’t think of any way that the New Member Program and participating in the New Member Committee have not made me a better person in general! Really, the most impactful part of the New Member Program to my practice as an educator has been the opportunities to discuss teaching with so many educators from so many backgrounds/subjects/grade levels; to speak with each other about what we do and how we approach pedagogy has generated so many new ideas that I have put to use in my classroom. It has been further gratifying to know that the crazy parts of teaching that I encounter so regularly are not unique to my own situation and to have colleagues with whom to share such experiences.”
How has the New Member Program made us better union members?
Understanding what the union is and does is the integral part of the New Member Program at Summer Conference. For many of us on the committee, going through the NMP sparked an interest in becoming more involved in the union at the local, state, or even national level. It helped us find a way for our voices to be heard where they are needed the most. We have made such important connections with expert educators from around the state who had welcomed us as new members and had taught us the importance of being an involved member.
“It’s broadened the amount of engagement and commitment I have to the organization & increased my willingness to promote and encourage participation in association activities.”
“The NMP made me a better union member because it made the union less intimidating. Before, I thought that the union was all about legal services, retirement, negotiations, and other “heavy” issues. Now I understand that, while those are all important, the union is ultimately a whole bunch of people just like me. NMP also helped me better understand different roles at the state and local level, which gave me the confidence to step up and be a building rep in my local.”
Going through the New Member Program was a great way to learn about the laws and mechanics of what our union and to build relationships along the way. Each of us on the committee took a different path to get involved in the union, but no matter the path, are better educators because of it.
Don’t forget to follow the New Member Committee on twitter!