Thursday, July 9, 2009
When I found out that on July 4th I had to be I a conference center all day, I was at first a little sad. But I would have to say that this was one of the most unique fourths I have ever had.
Once again our group was at the San Diego Conference Center for the NEA RA. The atmosphere of the area was exciting and fun. Everyone was dressed in his or her red, white, and blue. Soon after we arrived the students were nominated by donations from Tammy and Greg to wear the Fourth of July hat. All 9 of us shared it for an hour. It was a lot of fun to walk around with it, although with all the other outfits we did not stick out much.
Being with the National Education Association on July 4th was an amazing experience. The theme of the NEA RA this year is “Hope Starts Here.” This is a very special message. As a country we have moved away from an administration that was not always supportive of education to one that is working with the NEA to better the education system in America. We were shown a slide show during the day that highlighted several individuals that have made a difference in the America. Some of these individuals were, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Czar Chavez, and Barrack Obama. Then we were given a special message from Obama about our work as educators and what it means for the country.
The most inspirational part was when all of the student delegates and teachers under 30 were called up on the stage to be recognized that we are the future of education. The audience gave us a standing ovation. We sang Hero by Mariah Carey. Then we chanted “Hope Starts Here, Hope Starts Here, Hope Starts Here!” I was honestly given goosebumps as we stood on stage together. I realized the impact that we have upon the education system. Hope really does start here; it really does start with us. It is our job though to take it into the classroom and apply it to the student.
It was a wonderful experience to spend the fourth with 10,000 educators. It gave me a sense of pride and gratitude for our country and our country’s educators.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Today was the first day of the NEA RA and I must say what an experience. I was not really sure what I should be expecting but after seeing the organization that went into both the registration of over 10,000 delegates and the coordination of the expo I could only guess that the actual RA would be quite an event. When I walked into the convention hall I was surprised as to how big the RA actually was. It was even more surprising when we started the new business items and all of the sudden there was a huge roar of “aye” followed by a “no” from the crowd. It was very confusing for the first hour but eventually I caught on to the process and the order of the convention and found it to be very interesting.
I think that the most interesting part of the convention so far was the new business items. I think that as a union member it gave me a great insight to how business is done. I had never thought that a group of that size would be able to get through so much information as quickly as they did. I think that it will really help me to have seen the process in action and has clarified a lot of questions I had about how to run an efficient meeting. I hope to institute the rules that the NEA follows in my chapter in Mankato to hopefully resolve some issues that we have in running efficient meetings.
I also liked the fact that the new business items covered a wide range of topics not only topics directly related to education. I think that the new business items allowed me to really think about some topics that do not affect me currently but will probably start to appear in my life in the near future. When I arrived in San Diego I had not really thought about what the topics would be or how I might feel about the topics.
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Monday, July 6, 2009
NBI 35, the second of two NBIs discussed here, provides a template for the aforementioned professional growth. As an aspiring high school social studies teacher, my support for the separation of church and state was reinforced during NBI 35’s RA floor debate. NBI 35 aimed to prohibit the RA’s exhibit hall from promoting non-scientific concepts of creation science, creationism, or intelligent design. Although NBI 35 failed, it produced a healthy debate and a divided Minnesota Caucus.
In another example of union involvement, Tracy and I collaborated with Minnesota’s state contacts to Texas, Alaska, and South Carolina. In groups of four, Tracy, Minnesota’s respective state contact, the other state’s respective contact, and I discussed NBI 84—a Minnesota-initiated NBI to examine the feasibility of honoring the current year state affiliate NEA Teacher of Excellence at the NEA RA. In other words, by promoting this award, the NEA Teacher of Excellence might gain stage recognition at the RA. Elevating this award to NEA Teacher of the Year Award will motivate more NEA teachers to become involved in their local unions.
Thank you Education Minnesota Vice President Paul Mueller for mobilizing students for NBI 84.
Finally, Tracy and I held Al Franken posters behind Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher during his pep rally celebrating Al Franken’s Senate seating. We both enjoyed our three minutes of fame!
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The rest of the meeting was mostly spent on voting on the amendments to the standing rules. I learned that the standing rules are what govern how things are run at the RA. Some of these included the correct process to speak, how to introduce new business items and how to propose a motion. These rules are very important for the process of the RA to run smoothly.
After the meeting was finished we had the rest of the day free, before the RA starts tomorrow morning. A group of us decided to spend the day at Sea World to learn about and see the fascinating animals of the sea. As we walked around the park, it was fun to see all of the children's faces light up as they got to hold a sea star or walk underneath the shark tank or even pet the sting rays. As a student teacher I am able to see the value and importance of field trips such as these. It is crucial for children to see and connect what they are learning in the classroom to the people, places and things around us.
After the welcome and introductions, student delegates, new delegates, staff and the executive board were recognized at the Education Minnesota Caucus Meeting. New Business Item (NBI) procedures and the Political Action Committee were discussed. Senator Al Franken and the NEA-AFT campaign were also discussed.
This meeting reflected strong values that Education Minnesota supports. The first was how meeting together, as a caucus, strengthens our union. One strategy to accomplish this is by contributing what we can to support congressional delegates that support education. Networking was also greatly encouraged. Fortunately, we, the student delegates, began that process when we arrived in San Diego for the Student Delegate Conference. We also continue networking with our Education Minnesota Caucus. The NEA core values (Community Outreach, Political Action and Teacher Quality) that we discussed at the student conference definitely coincide with Education Minnesota's values.
Education Minnesota Student Program
Minnesota State University, Mankato
All of the student delegates had the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions provided by the NEA Student Program. I attended MyFace-Spacebook, Welcome to the Jungle, and Reality Check. MyFace-Spacebook discussed different issues related to using the internet and online activities that could possibly cost future teachers their jobs if not followed or done in a professional manner. Welcome to the Jungle discussed many different issues that could come up during your first year of teaching. Students who attended this session were provided with tips and tricks of setting up a classroom, managing time during our first year, difficult situations that may arise, and what different supplies to include to survive your first year as teachers. This was my favorite session that I attended because of all of the different ideas that the NEA Members in charge provided us with. My last session that I attended was Reality Check. This session discussed student and teacher behaviors that our methods didn’t cover. We had the opportunity to read and discuss different issues that teachers were fired for in the past.
During the next Fall Student Leadership conference, the student delegates who attended the NEA Leadership Conference will discuss what we learned during these sessions with other student members. As a future teacher I will apply all that I learned during my sessions to my career. Being a member of the teacher union I appreciate having the opportunity to participate in these breakout sessions. The sessions I attended dealt with one of the NEA student program’s core value relating to teacher quality which is a very important part of the classroom.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
During our ending sessions the students were given the opportunity to attend a few more breakout sessions. The sessions were aimed at one of the NEA student program’s core values of community outreach. We had the choice of going to how to create your own Outreach to Teach, Read Across America, apply for a CLASS grant, and how to utilize the media in relation to reaching out to the community. Personally, I attended the session about the Outreach to Teach. I chose this session because that meant the most to me. I really enjoyed myself at the Outreach to Teach at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA, last year, and this year at Balboa Elementary in San Diego, CA. I think that it is so important to give back to the community and what better way than to spruce up a place where students go to school? After experiencing this kind of outreach I would love to organize something like that at the local or the Minnesota level. This session gave me some great insights of things to do and how to plan something like this.
Once all of the sessions were done, all of the students who were going to attend the Representative Assembly stayed to have an NEA RA delegate orientation lunch. This was mainly to provide a way for the students to make connections with each other and see who would be joining us at the RA. After the lunch was over they surprised us and took all of the remaining students back to Balboa Elementary, where we did the Outreach to Teach, to meet the students and see their reaction. They go to school all year long and Monday they came back to a vast surprise. This was the greatest reward to all the effort that was put into the project. The elementary students had huge smiles on their faces and delivered thank you notes and pictures to every NEA student. From that reaction alone, I could see the impact that we made upon these children. That absolutely made this trip and conference worth while. I am still looking forward to learning and participating in what is left to come.
Minnesota State University Moorhead