Course descriptions

The following courses will be offered synchronously online at our 2021 Summer Seminar:


Breakout Session 1: 9:45 - 10:45 a.m.
LGBTQ+ Training Part 1: In this 2 part course, learn the basics about the LGBTQ+ community and how to be an ally. Learn about the importance of pronouns, laws and legislation that protects LGBTQ+ students, ways to use inclusive language and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and more. 

Winning Local Referendums: This session will cover the tools, resources and help available to locals that are working to pass an operating, building or technology referendum. The session includes valuable information for new and veteran leadership on how to create and execute a successful referendum campaign. The session explains what resources Education Minnesota offers, how to evaluate your community’s climate on levies, and working with other community and labor organizations such as parent groups and AFL-CIO Area Labor Councils (ALCs). Learn from other locals on the do’s and don’ts of winning a referendum. 

Union Orientation Best Practices: Inviting new hires to join the union at the beginning of their employment has been a long-standing, successful practice for building and maintaining the strength of unions. A quality, well-planned orientation along with thoughtful, intentional follow up practices will increase the likelihood that new hires will recognize the value of belonging to the union and choose to join. This session will give you the latest research-based tips and tools you need to develop a successful new hire orientation program for your local. 

When Can I Afford to Retire (TRA): The answer to this question depends not only on how well you have planned financially, but also on what your plans are in retirement. While you are working, your income comes from your paycheck. In retirement, your income will come from three sources: your pension, social security, any savings you have accumulated in accounts such as 403(b)/457/IRAs and savings. In this session, members will begin to understand how defined-benefit pensions work and how income in retirement is calculated based on the pension option you choose. You will also learn about various investment plans and the differences between them so you can plan what is best for you. Also important are health care choices, and decisions related to long-term care insurance as a means to provide independence as well as helping to protect assets and retirement savings. 

MRA Refresher: Member Rights Advocates serve as a local resource to respond to member concerns. A Member Rights Advocate learns to resolve issues using a variety of options and strategies. One of the goals of Education Minnesota is to have a Member Rights Advocate in every work site and in larger sites, one Member Rights Advocate for every 50 members. 

Mobilizing Members: During this workshop learners will be actively engaged in exploring how to connect with members, especially early career educators, and how to mobilize them to take action. Members will leave with an action plan their local can use in order to communicate effectively with membership, sustain and increase membership engagement, and build leadership capacity, which are paramount for holding a successful organizing event. 

Breakout Session 2: 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Why is it so Hard to Talk About Race?: Race talk, along with the expression of strong, intense emotions, is often discouraged in the classroom. This session will provide space and language for educators to learn and talk about three common barriers to opening discussions about race in our schools. Our hope coming out of this session is that participants will have the tools to label their own barriers to talk about race and some tools to help us all move forward. 

Social Justice Organizing: Working on equity issues is challenging and important work. Many locals are working to create avenues to do social justice work but find that speaking of these issues in parts of the state difficult. In this session we will highlight a few locals that have started this work and talk about how to navigate the various barriers to success. We will also leave the session with a few different tools that locals can use to organize around social justice issues and build a stronger local commitment to anti-racist and social justice unionism. 

Local Secretary Training: This session includes information for local secretaries. Attendees discuss the role of the local secretary. How do you prepare for meetings? What should be included in meeting documents? How long should you keep records? New and experienced local secretaries benefit from this session. 

New Presidents Teaser: This track is designed to provide new(er) local presidents with the knowledge and skills to have a successful term of office. Some of the topics include the role of the local president, constitution and bylaws, collective bargaining agreements, communication, membership and the value of belonging, and the Janus decision. 

Constitution and Bylaws: This session addresses constitution and bylaw issues, updates, and legal ramifications. It includes a review of recommended language, as well as a review of "potential member" issues that should be addressed. Participants examine examples of constitution and bylaws language. This session is most effective if you bring your local’s constitution and bylaws. 


Breakout Session 3: 9 - 10 a.m.
LGBTQ+ Training Part 2: In this 2 part course, learn the basics about the LGBTQ+ community and how to be an ally. Learn about the importance of pronouns, laws and legislation that protects LGBTQ+ students, ways to use inclusive language and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and more. 

Roles and Responsibilities of Building Representatives: Building representatives are the eyes and ears of the local. This session defines the role of building reps and provides ideas for them on how to connect with members, conduct short informational meetings and advocate on behalf of the members they represent. 

Digital Organizing 101: Digital communications and social media have become a critical part of bargaining and organizing campaigns. Tools like mass texting, live video and Facebook can be incredibly useful in communicating with your members and the community at-large. This session will discuss the latest ways your local can use social media and other digital tools to promote your message, build momentum and address issues that matter to educators, students and parents -- including examples of what other local unions are already doing. 

Educator Speech Rights: Can my district discipline me for political opinions I express on social media? What about criticism of my district or administrators? Does the First Amendment protect my ability to express political opinions in lessons? Do I have the academic freedom to teach controversial topics without administrative or parental interference? These topics have never been more timely and will be discussed in an interactive session. 

Financial and Fiduciary Responsibilities for Leadership: Education Minnesota and all its affiliates and intermediate organizations must comply with local, state and federal laws, plus the rules and policies set forth in our governance documents and by our national affiliates. At the same time, we must ensure strong financial practices. This session will provide information on fiduciary responsibilities and financial training for treasurers, local and intermediate organization leaders. 

Community Engagement: Building Relationships for the Schools and Communities Students Deserve: Now more than ever, the fight for safe, just and equitable schools means our Union must be deeply connected to the communities in which we work and live. We must be in community, not with passive presence, but in active partnership. 

Breakout Session 4: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
FIRE Team Teaser: Facing Inequities and Racism in Education, or “FIRE”, is Education Minnesota’s equity program. How did FIRE get started? What does FIRE do? How can you get involved? This session will provide answers to all of those burning questions (see what I did there?) in addition to having a panel discussion with current Racial Equity Advocates and new FIRE team members. 

Licensure Update: This session covers an overview of licensure laws and rules, including an update on renewal requirements. PELSB’s Executive Director, Alex Liuzzi, and Chair, Brian Rappe, will join EM staff Sara Ford as we provide an overview and answer questions. 

Successful Issue Organizing: In this session we will hear from members who have been involved local organizing campaigns within their union. We will examine and discuss common themes, key takeaways, and build skills on how to engage and respond to those who disagree with your mission.  

Membership Contact Training: Attendees learn how to document, record, and monitor membership information, as well as discuss case scenarios that will be helpful in their day-to-day duties as membership contacts. There will be an opportunity to review membership materials and learn how to complete membership forms and submit membership changes. Case scenarios will help to demonstrate the day-to-day issues that locals experience in dealing with membership concerns. 

Blurred Lines: Addressing Boundaries: Educators are passionate about doing what's best for their students. This can sometimes lead to situations that cause professional boundaries to be blurred. This session discusses the legal consequences of blurring those boundaries. 

Breakout Session 5: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Race Talk: This course introduces members to the Race Class Narrative Project, a well-researched messaging guide grounded in the principles of positive racial identity and collective action. By using real-life campaign advertisements, reflective practice and winning-narrative building blocks, participants will create their own powerful and activating message to inspire their own membership to take action. 

Bargaining With an Equity Lens: This session will explore collective bargaining and organizing strategies to elevate the voices of members of color, students and other traditionally under-represented groups. Participants will examine barriers for members of color in their unions and use an equity audit to examine contracts and local practices that are limiting for underrepresented educators. ESPs and teachers. 

A Living Legacy: Lessons From Labor History: The history of labor and unions has much to teach us. This workshop highlights eight ongoing themes from labor history that continue to play out in union work today—themes that help us understand better how to mobilize members. In addition, this session will include a short video on the history of education unions in Minnesota that highlights milestones in our shared history. 

Using Membership to the Max: Education Minnesota ESI works to bring quality programs and services to members and their families. Through a member-led advisory committee and board, programs and services go through a review process before being sponsored. Learn about the ESI, NEA and AFT sponsored programs including identity theft protection, financial resources and shopping discounts. There are programs for members at every stage in their career. In fact, there are many ways for members to save the cost of their dues and more. 

Shifting Bystanders to Union Activists: How do you share your enthusiasm for your union work with others? Being an engaged member is critical in today’s environment. We have to be able to discuss our union’s values and our union’s goals with the same passion as we talk about being an educator. We also need to move beyond talk and into action. This session focuses on organizing skills and a few different ways to move people from bystanders to active members who see themselves reflected in the work of the union. 

Local Treasurer Forum: Whether you are balancing the checkbook, filing IRS forms, or preparing for an audit, the realities of a local treasurer can be challenging. In this forum, a panel of experts is available to answer your questions and offer advice. This session is especially beneficial for new treasurers.