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Ideas for Being an Effective AR

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Prepared by Ben Breinholt – Granite Education Association AR of the Year 2011/12

Be the first person to welcome new employees to your school.

  • This includes new teachers, as well P.E. teachers, Reading Specialists, Speech Therapists, psychologists, social workers, custodians, lunch ladies, etc.
  • Establish relationships with everyone!
  • Also, remember to recruit all employees (specialists, social workers, etc.) in your building that are shared with another school.

When conversing with a prospective member:

  • Ask open ended questions and have them do most of the talking. Show that you are interested in them and are a good listener.
  • Ask for any concerns or questions they might have.
  • Be persistent, but not forceful (don’t have people avoiding you).

Celebrate new members:

  • Turn in their applications quickly and supply them with a welcome bag (GEA puts together an awesome bag of info and goodies).Go over important information to enable them to immediately take advantage of membership benefits.
  • Email all the staff to celebrate new members.
  • Celebrate them at faculty meeting.
  • Put their names on the Association Bulletin Board.

Make certain you keep your members informed.

  • Always provide latest information, whether it is hard copy, email, or important electronic.When forwarding an email or electronic info, always include a positive, personal message with a reference to our associations.
  • Forward to the whole school so the nonmembers are continually reminded of everything the NEA, UEA, and your local are doing on their behalf.
  • Keep the Association Bulletin Board up-to-date, and encourage everyone to go over it on a regular basis.
  • Encourage members to participate in association activities.

Your administrator is NOT your adversary.

  • Work collaboratively with them to be more productive.It ensures a positive working environment.
  • When solving a problem or issue, take the high-road and let them shine.
    • Many administrators have fragile egos.
    • Diplomatically take the credit due to you (never leave yourself out).

General Ideas

  • Be positive
    • Don’t sugar-coat important issues, but make an effort to present them in positive ways.
      • AR’s work collaboratively with administrators.
      • Local associations work collaboratively with the districts.
      • UEA works collaboratively with the Legislature.
    • Don’t argue, because 99.9% of the time people have bought in to a simple fix for a very complex problem or issue.
      • Validate the concern, and explain the complexity of the issue.
      • If you don’t know all the details, admit it. Study the issue and revisit it when you are more prepared.
      • Never try to BS the person!
    • Emphasize Association accomplishments, not always what we are fighting against.
    • Frame political issues in a moderate manner. Don’t appear to be a fanatic on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
    • Don’t attack the Republican Party or its office holders. Remember, Utah is a red state, and even some moderates in our state find it offensive.
      • Use facts, not put-downs.
    • If you say you are going to get information or do something, follow up in a timely manner.
  • Be proactive
    • Stay informed about the atmosphere of the school, your administrator, and grade level teams.
      • Important – Recognize the difference between legitimate concerns and gossip. Never get caught up in any gossip!
      • Search out and listen to all sides of a story before making a judgment, even if it comes from a trusted colleague.
  • Be the person everyone goes to (even nonmembers) to get advice.
    • Be professional and keep everything confidential.
      • This is substantially more important than, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.
      • Use your directors, president, and possibly other board members for help and advice.
        • Get the consent of, and explain the advantages to, the people involved in the issue or problem before you contact other people for advice
    • When a nonmember (you should know who your members are) comes to you with a problem, give general, limited advice as a courtesy, but never get personally or the association involved.
      • Tactfully explain the benefits of membership and that joining after a problem arises won’t get them the help they need.
  • If your administrator asks you to do a favor, always try to say “yes”. It’s even better if you say “yes” before the favor is explained.
    • Building a strong relationship with your administrator(s) is every bit as important as those with your colleagues.

Last but not least:

  • Develop your own style. The more comfortable you are the more successful you’ll be.

Excellent Advice from Beverly Johnson, NEA

  • Instill a palpable sense that employees and clients are cared for and nurtured.Acknowledge hard work and personal excellence, allowing employees to feel valued and valuable. Contributions are noticed regularly and rewarded in concrete ways.
  • Allow personal freedom of expression. Employees feel free to bring something personal and meaningful that reflects human diversity and being an individual.
  • Encourage innovation, so you’re not always relying on old answers/solutions to new problems.
  • Maintain a reliable feeling of support for employees and management/administration. People know they are not alone, and they are supported by the strength and assets of the organization/association. There is a feeling of trust and commitment.
  • Maintain a place of positive energy, enthusiasm for work being done, and the pleasure of interacting/collaborating with colleagues.
  • Encourage the empowerment of individuals, teams, and everyone in the workplace as a whole.
  • Quickly resolve tensions created by conflicts, and neutralize anxieties by creating and sustaining an atmosphere of stability, openness, transparency, and reassurance for everyone. It is peaceful but engaging, dynamic but not frantic or imbalanced in every way.