MEA framed as distance learning-focused, but was it?

For many teachers, MEA is a welcomed break mid-fall that gives them an opportunity to recharge before the push to Thanksgiving.

I recently wrote about Education Minnesota’s annual MEA conference that was held on Thursday, noting the different virtual workshops that were considered “professional development” sessions.

But I struggle to understand framing the event as distance learning focused. According to Fox 9, “MEA break allows teachers to discuss distance learning strategies.” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht was quoted saying, “We’ve tried to shape our conference not only to address what the students need right now, how can they do teaching and learning in a pandemic?”

Teachers would absolutely benefit from professional development sessions focused on teaching and learning during a pandemic.

However, looking through the offered workshops, and based on the keynote address that set the stage for the event, few addressed such challenges. If those conversations were happening in between sessions, or during break-out sessions, then great, teachers need and deserve support in this area.

But given that less than two percent of its teacher members and student members registered, it appears educators felt they would gain more from enjoying a four-day weekend than attending the union’s politically charged event.