Out with the Old & In with the New

By Gail Kablau

It’s common at this time of the year to spend time reflecting on the year, and looking ahead in setting goals for the new year. While it rarely changes how we approach our day to day activities, it can be really helpful in getting a fresh start or looking at things in a new way.

Personally, I don’t make New Year Resolutions, because I find it can often set us up for failure. If the goal is to lose 20-lbs and it doesn’t happen, then it feels like I’ve failed to keep that resolution. Instead, I look at it like more of an annual check-up. Let’s face it – no matter how hard we try to plan our lives, things have a way of happening that we don’t expect. So, the old adage that it’s not what happens to you, but how you choose to respond to what happens to you, is what really matters.

My annual check up is about looking at where life took me this last year, and how I responded to the twists and turns. My personal life provided a real challenge with a serious injury to a family member that required a lot of my time. Didn’t see that coming, so the challenges were real, and will continue into the new year. 

Professionally, it has been a year of adjusting to new administrators in my school district, with a new District Superintendent and a new Principal at my High School. Both have been positive changes, but I know that it will take time to develop these new relationships. 

Also included in my annual check-up is looking at my overall Union activities to see how we are doing, and what we can do better. Building membership is always at the top of the list of things to do, but it’s more than that. How to make the Union relevant to those who are new to the profession, or those who have not joined, is the main focus, if we are to grow our professional organization. It’s important to know that one size does not fit all here. Each District will be different focus.

I met with two School Districts in recent months to talk about re-organizing their support staff locals, and have made communication with two others to start the same conversation. These are important conversations, and each group has their own reasons for starting them now. It’s critical to really sit and listen to what those reasons are, because that is the key to either starting, or growing membership in that Local. An important distinction for all of these groups is that my initial conversation was with their teacher Local leaders who are now advocating for their support staff to be members. 

I have always believed that we must all work together to help each other grow stronger. I took steps to do that in my own District prior to Act 10, and it helped us to get stronger through that whole transition. We are stronger now because of it. I still believe it is the way we combat the problems that Act 10 left us with. So, out with the way we used to do things, and in with the new way of doing things – together. 

I strongly urge all Locals within a single school District to work together to lift each other up. While we chose, in my District, to move to a merged Union for governance purposes, that isn’t the way it has to be set up for everyone in order for true collaboration to happen. If we want to grow, we must make our efforts relevant to the majority of those we are trying to recruit, and for those who continue to be active in our Locals. Do your own annual check-up to find ways to work together to make that happen. 

Need help in learning ways to collaborate within your District’s local Unions?  Let’s Talk!

Contact Gail Kablau at: gdkablau@gmail.com