Why Unions for teachers?

March22

This post supports a larger Teacher Blog Action Day on Why teachers like us (good ones) support unions

My support for my union is based on many experiences; my own experiences teaching, my experiences at other jobs in other professions, the working experience of relatives. Most especially, it’s those experiences as women in the workplace that really showed me the need for a union.

First, the history of teachers unions is wrapped in the history of women in the workplace and labor movement. Most teachers were women (they still make up most of the teaching ranks today). The need for unions came about, not just because of bad pay and working conditions, but because those conditions reflected sexism and patriarchy in the workplace and society.

Least we think those conditions are in the past, you just have to look at how people still see our profession, as essentially a “part time” job with summers off. I’ve  had men whose mothers were teachers tell me what a great job it would be while I’m raising a kid. I started my first year teaching when my son was 2 years old. Thank god I have a spouse who was willing to help because I don’t know how I did it. Meanwhile, the reality is that I’ve had principals in interviews demand I give up my lunch periods to do tutoring. Although I balked at that wholesale request, I regularly end up cutting lunches short to prepare for my next period, or deal with administrative tasks.

In the bigger picture, teachers make up a big part of female union members. If we lose our unions, you are getting rid of one the biggest blocks of female union members, and females lose one of the few jobs categories that are unionized. Fewer females in unions, fewer unions for females.

Are unions perfect? No, but like all organization, it depends on its members to make it work.  If you feel your union is out of touch and not representing your interest there is a solution, become more active. If you like what they’re doing, you should  also be active to keep the good stuff going. This is why I am running for union office, to keep our organization strong, and bring some of my 21st century skills to our organizing efforts.

If you like having a pension you can count on and want to have some say in your pay and work conditions, take responsibility and provide your share of leadership. If you don’t like the idea of being fired because your “salary costs too much” or your administrator doesn’t like you, take responsibility and do something about it and don’t just be like a caller into talk radio who feels that by whining they’re making a difference.

Welcome to my blog

August16

Hi, I’m Alice Mercer. Welcome to my blog, Reflections on Teaching. I teach in a computer lab at a Title 1, persistently failing, priority school that is undergoing a transformation model. You can find out more about me at, http://mizmercer.edublogs.org/about/, and you can see a portfolio of my work at http://amercerportfolio.edublogs.org. If you’re going to comment, you might want to look at my policy here.

I like to blog about different things. If you look at my Week in Lab posts, you’ll see about how I’m teaching  with technology. If you look at my politics and policy posts, you’ll see my insights on education policy (and very occasionally other issues) there. I hope you find something worthwhile and subscribe via RSS (comments),  or email (just to the right in the sidebar column). I hope we have a fruitful and lasting online relationship!

Module 9: My Two Year Professional Development Plan

July28

Overall Goals

  1. Improving my knowledge of curriculum and best practices;
  2. Maintaining my knowledge of technology integration best practice;
  3. Improving my knowledge of effective coaching, presentation, and training;
  4. If I was truly interested in become a technology coordinator, or any sort of administrator (which I’m not, but I understand that is the goal of this course), I would want to learn more about public school budget and finance issues, since this is a weak area for me, and I notice this is an area where a lot of education administrators are also lacking skills and knowledge.

The first three skills are important for a technology coordinator and critical for a technology integration specialist or technology coach, the positions that I do aspire to.

Implementation Plan

My plan has four parts:

  1. Online Network
  2. Formal Coursework for University Credit
  3. Conferences
  4. District and regional trainings

Online Network

My online network, which I’ve used for this class, is a critical part of my learning process and has and will under-gird my efforts going forward. How will I use them effectively? I will use my blog, Google Reader to keep up with other blogs, Twitter, and Facebook — as I have during this class, to reflect on what I’m doing and learning.  They provide positive reinforcement for my efforts, but also can be a “critical friend” when I’m off-base. In addition, they often provide added value by sharing their experience, knowledge, and resources to take my learning to the next level. No matter how smart you are, there is always someone who has some important bit of knowledge you don’t possess. My network gets me in touch with people who know something I don’t, and can’t help round out my knowledge. It will also always be the most up-to-date source on a number of critical topics like new tools, and new methodologies.

Formal Coursework

If I were seriously interested in becoming a Technology Coordinator at the district level, I would take classes in education budget and finance, and classes on education administration. Work towards, or actual acquisition of an administrative credential would be necessary in many districts, and that is something that I am lacking.

I have an excellent knowledge of education technology, and when I’m given an instructional goal or a practice that does not involve tech, I am usually able to see possible ways to integrate technology quickly. I would be much more effective with a stronger knowledge of best practices in curriculum. I could use a course on theory, because although I’ve been in classes referring to Vygotsky and Dewey, I haven’t read them myself. I have folks in my online community who have studied  Marzano’s methods, and those sound interesting as well.

A class on effective instruction with adults would provide a solid grounding for “spreading the word” to my peers in a way that is more likely to be received.

Conferences

Conferences are a great venue for improving my knowledge of best education technology practices, and to learn more about effective presenting. I have attended conferences both at a local, regional, state, and national level. I’ve presented at the first three levels (I did get my session proposal for ISTE — the successor to NECC accepted, but couldn’t go). Despite this, I think there is still a lot I have to learn about presenting effectively. Also, the very nature of education technology involves rapid change. This demands keeping up to date. Conferences are a great way to find out what is new and to see it in practice in-person.

There is an interaction between conferences and my online network that helps sustain my online relationships. I’m one of those people who likes to occasionally meet the folks I know online in-person. It helps me solidify those relationships. Conferences provide that opportunity.

Going Local

This last year, and going forward, I am trying to concentrate more on my site and my district. The most important thing that I get from large national conferences is perspective. Talking to others in different districts, states, and countries gives me different points of view. I work in a district that has been very insular (although that is changing under new leadership). Sometimes it felt like the materials and methods we used were not just the best way, but the only way to teach.

Some people at these events take this to a rather strange place though. They love conferences because they don’t fit in where they working, and only feel comfortable with other “techies”. To me, the perspective I get is useless if I can’t “bring it home”. I’ve learned a lot, and had a lot of fun at these conferences, but if I want to be a leader, I really need to be able to connect what I’m learning about to my workplace and district, and get others involved.

The following school year (2011-2012) in particular will involve a significant technology push at my school site. My focus will need to be there to make that effective. I still will attend local conferences, and some at the state level, but I’m waiting until 2012 when ISTE is in San Diego before I go there again. Fortunately, there are some outstanding nationally recognized folks here, so it’s not a sacrifice. My only exception to attend a “national” conference, will be going to ASCD. This will be part of my efforts to improve my knowledge of best practices in curriculum, and because it will be held near where I live.

Other

What publications do I read? As a CUE (Computer Using Educators – California and Nevada) and ISTE member, I get their publications. In the next year I plan to add membership in ASCD, and reading their publications. In my RSS readers, I am subscribed to online versions of many of the blogs at Ed Week (Learning the Language, Inside School Research). Most of my reading on policy is online, and comes from suggestions via tweets, and blog posts from others. My list of blogs that I read changes often, but you can see what I’m looking at now here. In the past, I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts, live webcasts, and even participated in a show at Ed Tech Talk, but I’ve fallen out of that recently. I’d like to re-start that practice.

Two links and some questions…

June28

First, for those of you, who like me are following ISTE from afar, you can follow the Twitter feed in this neat “newspaper” format.

Next, I’ve spent the last weekend nursing a summer cold (bleech) and working on updating my portfolio. The results are here.

Last, if you are so inclined, answer a couple of questions about the network in your school district:

  1. Does your district allow for remote access of files and email via the Internet? How about mobile devices?
  2. Does your district keep centralized records of student work in electronic format? Does this include scanned copies of written work?
  3. What’s innovative about your district’s network? How is it behind the times?

Fast Fact Sheets on Education Technology

June25

I’m getting together some materials for my new administrator about different technology tools, and how they can be used in the classroom. I’ve done a series of quick overviews suitable for a busy administrator. I’m sharing them here for your input, critique, etc.

  1. Blogging Education Technology Briefing
  2. IWB Education Technology Briefing
  3. Podcasting Education Technology Briefing
  4. Skype Education Technology Briefing
  5. Teacher Laptops Education Technology Briefing
  6. VideoMaking Education Technology Briefing
  7. VoiceThread Education Technology Briefing
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License

Creative Commons License
All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Howdy! I teach sixth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. I started my career in Oakland, Ca, and moved here to Sacramento in 2001.

My goals are:

  1. To reflect on how I am teaching, and how effective my practices are;
  2. To reflect on my profession, and how effective various practices are;
  3. To understand the political and cultural context that we teach in; and,
  4. To network with other like-minded educators.

To help me reach my goals, I use this blog as a place for me to reflect on best practices, and the practices I’m (trying to) putting in place in my classroom.

I can be contacted here.

Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not those of Sacramento City Unified School District.