I’m the president of the New England Association of Teachers of English. During the four yearly Executive Committee meetings, 12-15 of us try to think about ways to help other ELA teachers from around New England. We struggle with trying to define and re-define the organization, particularly as we attempt to either stay or become relevant to teachers who are relatively new to the profession. I also think we have to figure out what it means to be a part of an organization, because more and more folks might not see professional organizations as something in which they want to be involved. Sigh.
This is hard work. However, I love the people who sit around and try to figure these things out with me. I joined NEATE because someone asked me if I wanted to get involved; now, about 12 years later, I’m still here. It’s some of the best PD I receive because the teachers on the board are brilliant–humble, too. They have ideas about how to do anything, and I am fortunate that they are also generous in sharing their knowledge. Thus, the days are a mix of working for the organization, blowing off steam about the stresses of teaching, and genuinely enjoying being together. In the meantime, there’s a steady mix of talking about books and current events, literary jokes, catching up on the latest family updates and coffee. Lots of coffee.
We never talk about what we could be doing instead of being at the meeting. There’s a sense of fulfillment in working together to attempt to figure out how we can best help our colleagues. There is satisfaction that, while the answers are still elusive and context-dependent, we are working together to try.