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Task 1: REQUIRED: Why do teachers unions exist and what do you think would happen if there was no union representation? What should teachers expect for themselves in terms of union benefits? What are your experiences with union presentations or discussions? Example: One of the reasons I entered this profession was because I was inspired by the strike wave of teachers’ unions in West Virginia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and elsewhere. Aside from a brief period in graduate school, I have never had union representation in my workplace, and I have been working since I was fifteen. I think it is essential for the dignity and fairness of work conditions to be protected by collective organizing. It’s been fascinating to watch the activity of teachers’ unions during the pandemic. While many so-called “essential workers” have been forced to risk their lived by returning to hazardous workplaces, many without PPE or other protective protocols, districts with strong unions have managed to protect students and teachers by keeping emergency virtual learning measures in place in public schools. They have done so in spite of tremendous pressure from powerful interests. In places where these measures were not taken, schools have played host to waves of infection, and teachers’ health and very lives have been put at risk. In a profession already defined by the demanding environment and work schedule, this protection has been absolutely necessary. On the other hand, I would like to see more demands by teachers’ unions regarding the work conditions produced by the pandemic. I have been surprised by the almost insupportable workloads of most of my colleagues, and I think that one hidden cost of virtual learning is that it creates even more work for teachers. This may be something to organize around once teachers get vaccinated; it is easy for employers to exploit a crisis to squeeze more labor out of people who are already making tremendous sacrifices to be public servants. Unions command public respect and self respect, and they remind us of our collective power. They also remind us that we are in this profession together. I think these values are excellent for our students to see enacted. We need more of this worker power. Task 2: Video: https://wellbeings.org/covidandcoping/ (1:00:00) (c) 2020, WETA Productions, Arlington, VA Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of America’s young people, who now face uncertainty in almost every aspect of life and the constant stress of social isolation. To address some of the most pressing mental health issues youth are struggling with right now, Well Beings and PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs will host Teens, COVID and Coping, a panel conversation featuring psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour, the author of Under Pressure and Untangled and New York Times contributing columnist, alongside teens and educators. Moderated by PBS NewsHour Senior National Correspondent Amna Nawaz, the conversation will offer insight into how peers, parents and teachers can help young people struggling in this moment. REQUIRED: After viewing this video and knowing your students, do you believe that any of your students may share the stressors and situations as those featured in this video? What challenges have your students shared while being on online learning? What are you doing to make accommodations during this time of distance learning and how are these benefitting your students? *I believe some of my students are struggling to perform well in their AP and honor classes. When I put my students into a breakout room a lot of the time they would be taking a class that they are stress about. Since Lowell is a high academic school grade mean everything to them* SUBMIT: This in-depth reflection is to be 2-3 pages.
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