2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Monday, July 10, 2017

My First National Education Association Representative Assembly: Part 3

In case you missed Parts 1 (which you can read here) and 2 (which you can read here), Medina City Teachers Association sent three delegates to the National Education Association Representatives Assembly in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. This post continues our adventure as delegates.

The official Assembly was incredible: There were over 7,500 teachers, over 11,000 people in the Convention hall. Each state had a designated area in which to sit, and because Ohio had over 350 delegates, our section was further divided into regions. Seating is a big deal at the RA. As a new delegate, I had no idea how much energy we would devote to discussing who sits where. What you are supposed to do is bring a seat marker (which most districts provide to the delegates) to mark your place during the week.  Luckily for us, Sue from Parma offered to find us three seats together in the NEOEA district. Our location wasn't bad at all, even though we were in the last rows of the Ohio delegation, and Ohio was seated toward the back. We had microphones to either side of us, and there were big screens right in front of us, so I feel like I was still in the middle of the action.

Ohio starts to fill up the seats.

Each day of the RA has a different theme. This first day of the Assembly was District-themed, so everyone wore clothing affiliated with their region.  Most of us purchased NEOEA hoodies, and let me tell you, I am SO GLAD I did because it was cooooooollllldddd in that convention center.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I wonder where our seats are.
The two days of Ohio Caucus really helped me to figure out what was going on during the assembly, as the procedure was exactly the same, only with more debate. LOTS more debate. Again, the most popular motions were the ones to end debate. As in any group setting, there are always people who want to talk or be on the jumbo screen, even when they have nothing new or useful to add, but I was impressed with the way Lily Eskelsen Garcia handled people who tried to manipulate parliamentary procedure. She was always kind but firm when she shut down delegates who jumped the line in debate by claiming a point of information when all they wanted to do was debate for or against the motion. I especially loved when someone challenged her decision on a Division vote. Here is a popular meme that went around Twitter about the decisiveness of Lily, Becky, and Princess:
Meme Credit: Bruce Twitchell on Twitter

Speaking of Lily (you knew I was going to speak of Lily, right?), her keynote speech rocked the house.  Here is an analysis of it in The Washington Post.

As we voted on New Business Items and Resolutions Amendments, I tried to keep up with a database, but the wifi was spotty at best on the first day, so I ended up writing down much of the information in the daily booklet of New Business Items. I still haven't gone through it, but it's lurking in my bag in my closet, and I know I'll have to go back to it soon.

We took a lunch break and visited the best park ever just outside the convention center. It had swings for adults, a band, and a food stand. The swings had solar panels on the top, and they glowed in the dark at night. Plus, the swinging generated energy. So cool!

I could have sat in this swing all day.

Katie agrees.

After a break, we came back to more debates and voting. Lily seemed to be frustrated with the technology problems and the acoustics of the hall, so we adjourned at around 5:00, which was the earliest we would leave that week.  

That evening we went to dinner with some NEOEA colleagues, and we had a really nice time.

Bradley is making friends with everyone.
One thing I appreciate about Boston is that it is so walkable. We walked just about everywhere we wanted to go. This means that even though I sat on my butt for hours every day, I still walked at least four miles in the afternoon and evening. Plus, I was running at least four miles each morning. With all the delicious food here, I had to do something to burn off the calories!

We knew that the 5:00 dismissal was a fluke, and we had about 4,297 gajillion New Business Items to discuss in the coming days, so after dinner, it was bedtime.  7:00 Caucus tomorrow!

Next Post: Voting and Learning the Tricks

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