Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Welcome back to the second half of the 2022-2023 School Year.
A Look Back
Oh what a year it has been! Jacque and I officially began our work leading the Portland Association of Teachers on July 1st, 2022 and PAT has accomplished so much already! Between July 1st and December 16th, our union has:
- Continued advocacy for Middle Schools through “A Call for a Safe and Stable School from PPS Middle School Communities,” adding building-based RJ coordinators to PPS MS
- Hired 2 new OEA Staff members, Ryan Olds and Jessica Nuti
- Added new Executive Board Members, Committee Co-Chairs, and Organizers
- Hosted a PAT table at the Tiger Tiger Community event, reading books and painting faces
- Amended and passed the business item at the Oregon Education Association (OEA) RA to create a Social Worker and Counselor Committee to address concerns specific to their needs (technically this was before July 1st, but was awesome nonetheless)
- Supported Glencoe in pushing back against the District when they tried to go back on their promise to add another classroom teacher (this wasn’t a “rumor” as some PPS leaders stated, we have the receipts)
- Organized around temperatures in schools and filed OSHA complaints, pushing PPS to develop a heat mitigation strategy and plan
- Held our first Community Outreach Drive-Thru Event
- Increased our Social Media Presence
- Had our first of many Community Listening Sessions to discuss Community Schools
- Collaborated with other PPS Unions to fight for Covid Leave protections
- Supported Special Educators with a SpEd Week of Action
- Got Out the Vote: Increased our PAT Voter turnout to 84% of PAT members & 66% of potential PAT Members
- Joined the NEA Strategic Campaign Institute
- Surveyed our Members around Bargaining and began bargaining Article 9
- Met with Head Start Educators, Pre-K educators, TOSAs, Special Educators, and those who support, to better understand their concerns and needs
- Multiple grievances filed by educators and staff, as well as building-based actions to push for safe and supportive schools
- Developed a training calendar for the rest of the year
Held multiple site-based socials where educators could connect and build community
WOW! What a first half of the year! Jacque and I know we would not be able to “lead” all this work without our members’ collective actions and dedication. Thank you to our committee chairs and organizing leads, thank you to every single educator who came to an event or meeting, who listened to a colleague with a need, who opened an email from PAT, who took care of themselves and prioritized their health and safety so they could teach another day. Thank you.
What does 2023 have in store for us? We know we will be heading full on into successor bargaining this year, and we have had many educators give us input on bargaining proposals. We continue to strive for language that provides the maximum benefit to the maximum number of people AND looking at what the highest needs are regardless of the number impacted. The 150-day bargaining clock starts January 10th, and your colleagues have been working hard to prepare for the campaign ahead. Keep wearing your blue on Tuesdays, keep speaking up and sharing out, and keep an eye open for upcoming events and actions. ¡Juntos podemos!
I was reflecting on returning back this January. I have had several former colleagues share that they are exhausted, they are having panic attacks, they are still dealing with the effect of catching COVID this break (COVID isn’t over, y’all! Please mask up!), and several who are just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I heard from educators worried about returning and being able to serve the students in front of them. This system has stretched everyone to the limit, and winter break is often a time to reflect and take stock of what matters.
During this time of reflection and the resetting of expectations, I implore y’all to cultivate some self-compassion: “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” -Dr. Kristen Neff, Author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Self-Compassion is about treating ourselves the way we would that friend; "Instead of just ignoring your pain with a 'stiff upper lip' mentality, you stop to tell yourself 'this is really difficult right now,' how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?" Self-compassion consists of three components:
- Self-kindness (vs self-judgment): Self-kindness is the act of acknowledging our failures and suffering. Instead of ignoring or punishing ourselves for those failures, we are gentle with ourselves anyway.
- Common humanity (vs. isolation): Common humanity is the act of recognizing you are not alone in what you are feeling and experiencing; "suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience".
- Mindfulness (vs. over-identification): It can be tempting to forcefully silence and avoid or over amplify and spiral with those negative thoughts and feelings. "Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them."
You deserve self-compassion for the simple reason that you exist. You deserve to feel comforted, connected, and balanced. How will you practice self-compassion this year? Remember: Do not run yourself ragged to fit into raggedy systems. Together, we will lift each other up and fight for a radically compassionate system that serves EVERYONE. But first, we need to find that compassion for ourselves as well.