The importance of a conversation
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 128 No 3, 5 May 2023, page no. 17
Speaking with early career teachers is one of the most rewarding aspects of our roles as QTU officials. Sharing in their experiences (the positive and the negative) and offering support and guidance is key to who we are as an organisation.
They learn that we live our core values from their first QTU contacts, through personally experiencing that we are member-focused, democratic, professional, united, and courageous. This leads them to understand that their voices, along with the voices of 48,000 other members, are heard professionally, industrially, and legally.
Many share their ups and downs, acknowledge the support of their colleagues, discuss fatigue towards the end of term, laugh about funny moments with their students, speak with passion about their practice, ask questions, share stories of their families and previous life experiences, and apologise for not upgrading (if they were a member at university but are now working) or joining the QTU.
In fact, many new educators admit that they know they should upgrade, but that it keeps slipping down their list of “to dos” and that it wasn’t a priority for them. A high volume also identify that they do not know who their school-based Union Representatives are and had not been invited to join. Through discussion, many disclose that Union Representatives had not participated in their induction or mentoring beginning teacher program (yet) and had not spoken at any school, year level or subject area meetings.
A large majority do upgrade their membership. In fact, while discussing all things QTU, TUH and Union Shopper, one new educator stated: “The Union is, like, for my entire life needs!” Yes, it is sister!
So as Union activists, how do we ensure our new educators join or upgrade their membership?
We can do this by highlighting how the QTU works and wins for members every day. The sound of 48,000 members rings loudly when negotiating and working with the government – the largest employer in the state. Only the QTU has a voice on the QCAA, QCT and in EB negotiations. As a real union, we have the right to consult with the department, organise and campaign, enter school premises, and take industrial action. Every officer of the QTU has walked in their shoes, as we are all registered teachers and have a wide range of teaching and school leadership experience that we now use to work with, and win for, our members.
So how is the QTU #seen, #heard and #felt at your school? How are we engaging and following up with those newest to teaching? How are we showing them that ours is the only union which meets the needs of our profession? How are we creating a community that will ensure the on-going strength of our amazing organisation through strong membership?
The Union Reps section of the QTU website has resources that will help you answer some of these questions. Alternatively, feel free to email me, Organiser Membership Growth Lynn Cowie-McAlister, at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can answer any further questions you may have.