Friday, August 8, 2008

What would we do if we knew we would not fail?

I have that phrase on some paper weight in my house. I bought it because I love the line it draws in the sand. It challenges me to be daring, creative, a little courageous everyday. I know that I am not daring, creative, or courageous everyday. Although, it’s a great day when I find out exactly what I cannot fail at. Union work is about knowing when to pick that fight and knowing when to save your energy for the fight you are going to have to pick. Union work is also about reacting to a fight that gets picked with you. Union work is knowing when to stand in solidarity with someone and knowing when to ask for help.

I didn’t start this summer thinking I was going to Yemen, that I would need to actively defend the Employee Free Choice Act, or that I would get so fed up as to wash my hands of any remnant of No Child Left Behind at all. I did know that I was going to spend the summer connecting members with each other and our national affiliates. I knew I was going to make our ambitious professional development goals a reality. I knew I was going to spend time building our union’s ability to endorse and campaign for key state house seats, Al Franken, and Barack Obama.

As full as that plate is for the summer, I think the St. Paul Federation of Teachers has just begun to uncover our potential to answer that question collectively.

Tomorrow, Amber Prentice and I are going to lead the official Yemeni teacher’s union (GUTEP) through a series of exercises that evolve from “What are some common concerns facing your teachers?” through “How can this professional development class help your union?” We hope we have set up the time to be transformative and to bring them a perspective on union work we have been told that they’ve never had. In essence, we are asking them to name what they would do if they knew they would not fail.

Professional development is a union’s work and it is impossible for us to fail at it. We have the talent, the tenacity, and the collective strength within our ranks to set up powerful learning communities because a union already is a professional learning community.

Which leads me to ask the members of SPFT, what else would we do if we knew we would not fail?

I’m looking forward to hearing your answers.

No comments: