By Dan Staples, president, Manchester Township Education Association
Around today’s NJEA, there is no shortage of meetings being held by members and NJEA staff who are using Art of Hosting techniques. I first experienced the Art of Hosting at 2016’s PRIDE in Public Education Conference and have since been involved in numerous county and statewide meetings where it has been used. It was also nice to hear one of my fellow presidents, Carolyn Schultz of the Pennsauken Education Association, talk about her experiences using the Art of Hosting on a recent episode of the Jersey Educator podcast.
Based upon these experiences, I decided to try facilitating meetings in my local association using Art of Hosting techniques. I planned a World Café for my Rep Council’s August organizing meeting. I crafted questions for my members that guided discussion that would focus on our association goals for the year. This allowed all of our association representatives to share what was important to them, and we built upon these discussions to determine our association’s priorities for the year.
We are now planning to use Art of Hosting as we prepare for bargaining. We want to give members the opportunity to share what their needs are and use the results, or harvests, from this to drive our negotiations survey.
I find Art of Hosting to be a more forward thinking model that offers greater participation to members. Since that initial meeting I believe that we have fostered a more constructive ongoing dialogue, which better serves our members and enhances our ability to effectively target their needs. Our members feel valued, too, as Art of Hosting gives them the opportunity to participate instead of just sitting and listening.
Because of Art of Hosting, more of my members’ voices are being heard throughout our local association. For example, our high school transitioned to block scheduling this year, and we opened the year at the school with a World Café to identify potential challenges and opportunities.
Dan Staples is president of the Manchester Township Education Association of Ocean County. Feel free to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in bringing Art of Hosting techniques to your local association, contact your NJEA UniServ field representative. You can learn more about Art of Hosting at artofhosting.org.
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