Building reps are often a teacher’s first point of contact when questions arise—ranging from practical matters to sensitive subjects. They are their colleagues’ contract enforcer, organizer, and spokesperson.
A building rep’s job is vital, but it’s time-consuming, and often receives little thanks.
That’s why, here at CEA, we’re recognizing building reps around the state for their dedication to their colleagues and their willingness to devote time out of their busy schedules to this important job.
This week’s building rep superhero is Heather O’Brien, who teaches ninth and tenth grade English at the Morgan School in Clinton.
Here’s what O’Brien has to say about how she supports her fellow Education Association of Clinton members.
I try to be an advocate for our members to ensure that their questions and concerns are heard and validated—and addressed as needed. I’ve found that listening is more important than speaking, more often than not.
It’s also critical to have good relationships with building administrators and administrators at the district level. Both administrators and teachers have the same goal of doing what’s best for kids, and when we prioritize that shared goal we’re more likely to be able to solve any differences that arise.
When I was a new teacher I didn’t know what was happening even at the local level of my union. Now, as a building rep, I’m a touch point for members so that they will be informed about issues or concerns.
It’s so important that teachers are well-informed. We need to be in the loop about what’s happening in our buildings, districts, state, and at the national level when it comes to education issues. As teachers, we really are on the front lines with students. Students often can’t advocate for themselves, so it’s really up to us as teachers to be that critical voice.