California Educator

November 2015

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President Eric Heins, le, at October State Council with legendary organizer Marshall Ganz, who spoke on the importance of storytelling. president's message I d o n ' t k n o w a b o u t y o u , but I love to curl up with a good book — especially at this time of year, when the leaves are falling and it's getting a little cooler outside. There's just something about getting lost in a great stor y, connecting with the characters, and experiencing all the emotions that make it memorable and moving. I think reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give our students. But not all great stories have to be written down to share. e art of storytelling goes way back, even before the written word. It was how history was first recounted, how civilizations were remembered, and how people shared experiences and values. For many groups and families, the stories handed down are what hold them together and define them. CTA's stor y goes back more than 150 years, and there's plenty more to come. By the true nature of our union, the larger CTA story is the collection of all of our experiences. What led us to work in public educa- tion? What drives us to be an advocate for all students? What makes us embrace diversity in our classrooms, our ranks and our communities? e answers to these questions are what binds us together and makes up the fabric of our union. I experienced this firsthand last month at the CTA State Council of Education meeting in Los Angeles, It's Story Time as educators became the students in a storytelling workshop with renowned organizer and Harvard professor Mar- shall Ganz. Ganz helped us discover storytelling as a leadership skill, a way to forge deeper connections with one another. More specifically, he helped us explore what led us into the profession and into advocacy work, and through sharing we reconnected with one another. Turns out we have a lot more in common than we thought. I know you each have your own story about what motivated you to pursue a career in education. It's in the sharing of these stories that we find our shared values and common drives. at's why we launched a 3,000-conver- sation campaign at the October State Council meeting. is is the next step in implementing our strategic plan: listening to and engaging members in the work of the union. Many locals are already hard at work, meeting and talking with every member, hearing their stories. With each conversation we strengthen our union and build our capacity — and we're able to come together as a cohesive, powerful group to face the challenges ahead. At the top of the list of challenges is the attack on our very right to come together and have a voice on the job and in our communities. I'm referring to the court case Friedrichs v. CTA, which will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court early next year. ere's no time to lose. We need to harness the power of storytelling to promote meaning ful change for our students and our profession. As Ben Okri, a Nigerian poet and novelist, said, "Stories are the secret reservoir of values: Change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell them- selves, and you change the individuals and nations." Together, we can and will lead the conversation about what works for our students. We will reach out into our communities to talk about the kind of support our neighborhood schools and colleges need. And we will advocate for the public education all California students deserve. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins 5 November 2015

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