THE FUTURE IS NOW – The Sometimes Forgotten Benefit
Many people think of collective bargaining for salary, benefits and working conditions as the most essential benefit of union membership, but the solidarity created by belonging to a union family is at least as important.
That solidarity was demonstrated recently through the work of both AEM (Aspiring Educators of Michigan) members and MiNE (Michigan New Educators).
AEM chapters came together to discuss their own shattered sense of safety on campus after the deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University. Annette Christiansen, MEA’s state organizer for AEM, reached out to members, and many joined virtual drop-in sessions for talk and support.
Aspiring educators also came together to care for members from MSU. Central Michigan University AEM members created cards in green and white. Ferris State University AEM members drafted messages to their MSU colleagues.
These cards and messages were delivered to MSU at their Feb. 28 meeting where the focus was on camaraderie and self-care.
Members of MiNE have supported their colleagues through a series of virtual book studies over the past few years. Usually, these books address pedagogy and are enjoyed by teachers at all points in their careers.
This year was different. This year the book chosen was From Burnt Out to Fired Up: Reigniting Your Passion for Teaching, by Morgane Michael, in response to the growing number of members feeling overwhelmed with the stresses of life and pressures of a challenging job.
Both the virtual book study and a condensed version of the book study offered at the MEA Winter Conference have been in-demand and well received.
Despite so much focus on the social-emotional needs of our students, teachers often forget to meet their own needs. Couple that with the primary and secondary stresses of the job and the empathetic distress caused by the growing mental health needs and adverse experiences of our students, and it is no wonder so many teachers are feeling overwhelmed.
The good news is that the book offers specific suggestions for overcoming these challenges, and the virtual book study provides supportive conversation about what is being learned. Each chapter focuses on a different “R” the author contends will help reignite the passion once felt for teaching.
The first section offers suggestions on how to “reflect” on emotions and stay mindful to avoid judgment or over-personalizing events. A second section provides ways to “reframe” our thinking to build resiliency and avoid toxic positivity.
Next the book challenges readers to “refocus” through goal-setting outside of work and to “reconnect” with friends, family and colleagues when exhaustion and stress might otherwise encourage us to withdraw.
Due to overwhelming demand, this five-week book study is starting again on April 11. Follow MiNE and AEM on social media to connect and stay informed!