Each year we enter our profession with goals for ourselves and the students we serve. Associations are not much different. Associations can have strategic priorities for their leadership group as well as for their membership. For the 2017-18 school year, membership engagement has moved from being one of the priorities to being THE priority for many associations.
Leaders of an association can be defined as the elected leadership such as the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Along with the Executive Committee, building reps, or Association reps are also considered leaders. However, leadership doesn’t end there. Regardless of holding an elected office, respected educators within an Association can influence the members of their building. It is the responsibility of local leaders to engage the membership. What does this mean? Simply put, it starts by having a conversation and getting to know one another.
Take the opportunity to develop a positive, trusting relationship. Listen to what members like about their job, how they feel about the current state of education, and what they enjoy doing in their personal life. It’s called having a “one-on-one” conversation. Conversations take time. However, the benefits include developing personal relationships at the workplace, identifying future leaders, and understanding the concerns of your local.
The other part of a successful “one-on one” conversation is participation by the member! It is a good thing for members of a local and their leadership to connect. Members need to share what they appreciate and what their issues are. Whether or not your Association is a fair share fee local or not a fair share fee local, this is a chance for bargaining unit members to have their voices heard. There are other ways for members to be engaged and receive support.
Educators who are in the early stages of their careers can be involved with O.N.E. or “Ohio’s New Educators.” This group has been involved in restructuring Ohio’s Resident Educator Program and reducing the number of assessments. NEOEA, along with OEA, hosted an Early Career Educators’ Night Out on September 28 at Market Garden Brewery from 5:00—7:00 p.m. It was an opportunity for networking as well as a chance for members to learn about their association and the power of membership.
Regardless of experience, educators can always look to NEOEA for support. NEOEA Day takes place on October 13 and offers quality professional development across northeastern Ohio. If your local is negotiating this year and is unable to attend one of OEA’s Bargaining Boot Camps, consider attending the Negotiations Conference which is offered on NEOEA Day.
UniServ Councils are another way for members to be engaged. Local leaders receive valuable information and training at their local UniServ meeting, and they have the ability to take interested members along with them.
The opportunities to engage members exist. Local leaders need to determine what strategy will work best for their local and implement it. Members need to take the next step and connect with their association. A strong membership can affect positive change for both our students and our members.
United we stand,
Published in our Early Fall Issue 2017 of News & Views.