From the VP: What a difference a year makes…
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 6, 14 August 2020, page no.9
This time last year, we were deep in EB balloting and the very concept of a school day full of Zoom meetings and preparing for online learning seemed so remote, it could very well have been science fiction.
Throughout 2019, I heard many a comment made in relation to the difficulty people were facing attending branch meetings due to time of the meeting, heading home after work, care commitments and difficult to access venues. Twelve months later, as we find ourselves navigating through the COVID-19 world which is determining much of our work, online meetings have now become the norm for communication and engagement. Our branch meetings, Area Councils and member briefings have all occurred via Zoom.
From current adversity comes opportunity in relation to how we can engage with each other, and one positive outcome has been the wider cross-section of the QTU membership participating in our decision-making forums as a direct consequence of these changes.
One example of the impact of this new way of meeting emerging challenges for our membership was highlighted in the recent digital ballot. This was the first time in QTU history that a digital ballot was utilised. In a ballot open for only one week, the results speak for themselves – this was second highest ballot participation result ever achieved. It was not without its small glitches, but it represented an opportunity to explore new ways to respond and engage for us as an organisation and our members.
Zoom or online meeting protocols have not stopped questions or debate; nor has the online medium diminished engagement. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred, with the newfound ability of members to participate from offices, classrooms or homes increasing participation in the democratic structures of the Queensland Teachers’ Union. From adversity has come opportunity, which has been embraced and adopted from all directions.
What has not changed though, is the essence of what makes a contemporary teacher. Whether in the classroom, a support role, or school leadership, the care and consideration for others as professionals and student engagement throughout these challenging times is widely reflected in meetings. The systemic nature of workload and the ongoing impact it has as it is reimagined by each level of our bureaucracy is common. This is part of the rationale behind the workload reduction campaign in relation to turning off your EQ device. You are a professional. Exercise your professional discretion regarding when and how you engage with digital technology. Although the world now operates on a 24-hour news cycle, your role as a teacher does not.
Embrace the positives and negatives we have all collectively experienced in recent times to forge a better working life as a teacher. This is a new chance for members to get to meetings, engage at the workplace with colleagues, know and use working conditions, activate in the workplace etc. We are all the Union!