I will never forget trying to manage a classroom crowded with 39 bright fifth-graders who were overflowing with energy, mischief, rowdiness, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Yikes! Luckily, I like them that way. I learned a long time ago, you want quiet, you work with goldfish.
By the end of the day, I was always exhausted. I was also a little blue; having so many kids in the class meant that I couldn’t provide the one-on-one attention and time they often needed, and it left me feeling a bit helpless.
But the experience didn’t discourage me from teaching. Instead, it prompted me pick up the phone and call the Granite Education Association. I got involved in advocacy to reduce class sizes, and soon after, I was appointed to the negotiation team. The Utah Education Association started a letter-writing campaign to petition the governor for funding to reduce class sizes in our state, we rallied, we met with Republican and Democratic leaders, I actually sat with the Republican governor and told him about my 39 students…and ultimately, we won the first class-size reduction dollars ever allocated in the great state of Utah.
It was a huge victory for students and the educators who were dedicated to connecting with each one of them, discovering their passions, and helping them appreciate their potential.
No, class sizes weren’t reduced overnight. But nothing felt better than realizing we had collective power, harnessing it, and making a difference in our students’ classroom experience.
That’s my union “Aha” moment; what’s yours? I would love to hear your stories of how union activism has made a difference in your professional lives, schools, communities, and states. Reply below, and let’s start a conversation!