The importance of building connections
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 8, 2 November 2022, page no. 15
As I look back on back on 2022, one thing I have learnt as QTU Vice-President this year is the importance of building connections. Whether you are a beginning teacher starting at your very first workplace, transferring to a new location or teaching a new year level - making connections is vital.
A few weeks ago, I travelled to Cambodia as part of an international Australian Education Union delegation. Hearing about the challenges of our counterparts with stories of oppression was humbling. Creating connections at this level is important, because for those leaders, having the support from other unions around the Asia-Pacific, brings hope that together we can create change to make a difference in teachers' and students' lives.
Recently at the annual AEU federal women’s conference, connections with our interstate colleagues were highlighted. Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to understand that even though we may teach with similar values and a national curriculum, our systems across the different states and territories are very different. We do however have the common goal of achieving gender equality and appropriate resourcing for our great state schools.
Within our TAFEs and state schools, connections are necessary for success. As you know, teaching requires passion, dedication, compassion, and creativity. It’s very natural for us as teachers to have a fundamental belief in a better world; one that our students will go on to create and one that we hope to shape through them.
The educational landscape has so many facets. At the chalk face, we are connected in so many ways, with students, support staff, your faculty or year level, with teachers and school leaders, and with parents and the community. It takes a village to help a student reach their full potential, so finding connections that foster motivation and knowledge building with thinking of integration of old and new information is the challenge. I believe that to create meaningful connections we need to be open to possibilities and new ideas. Even when staying positive becomes a monumental task, we have to persist.
Being a Union Representative also requires you to be connected on different levels. Building rapport with members within your workplace and your leadership team is critical as you carry out your duties to get the best member outcomes. But as a Rep, many of us are not only connected with members at the local level, but at a branch, area and State Council level also. Having those relationships means that we are across what is happening, not only locally but across the state. We also know that we have additional support at times when we need it the most.
As a teacher first and foremost, connection before curriculum is a statement I stand by. Connection builds trust and is especially powerful when it starts from the earliest days. When students feel seen and heard, and we feel we know our students better and it's far easier to achieve better outcomes for them. The importance of building relationships is pivotal to all that we do, whether we are leaders within our Union or within the classroom.
In 2023 we look ahead to a year full of promise. My challenge to you is how will you build greater connections in your workplace, your classroom? My own challenge will be to strengthen the bonds I have with you, our membership, as your Vice-President.