The Illinois Federation of Teachers recognizes the quality union-sponsored professional development is critical to helping you be more effective in your job and as a union leader That's why the IFT offers a wide variety of professional development programs. Courses are taught by union members and staff who have been specially trained to meet your professional development and union training needs.

Professional development and training


Union leadership institute (ULI)

Union Leadership Institute (ULI) North courses are held at the IFT Robert M. Healey Center in Westmont, Ill. Most courses are held over three weekends and participants must attend all three sessions to complete the course. In addition to the core three-weekend courses, one-weekend sessions will be offered. 

Courses are taught by experienced union members and veteran IFT staff who understand your needs and the issues you face each day.

Courses vary, but core programs include:
NEW! Building and Sustaining Union Power

Introduction to Collective Bargaining

Boot Camp for Union Leaders

Effective Grievance Administration

The Union's Response to Student Trauma and Stress

AFT LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) program
The IFT, in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Cornell University, offers the LEAD program to help local union and council teams establish strong relationships with their members and the community. Throughout the year-long program, LEAD teams hold several collaborative meetings to assess their challenges, determine how to strategically overcome them, and develop an effective action plan.

Professional Issues Training and Support
IFT members are experts in their fields and uniquely qualified to train their colleagues. After completing an IFT Train-the-Trainer course, members are armed with the skills and materials they need to conduct professional development programs in their locals.

IFT members have instructed many programs in their own locals and councils, including:  
Initial Teachers Evaluation Training

Evaluation Empowerment

Building Responsive and Trauma-Informed Schools

Worksite Leader (WSL) Training
The WSL program is designed to help union activists be effective worksite leaders in their building or workplace. By informing and engaging members, WSLs play a critical role in growing and strengthening their locals and the IFT.

To become a WSL graduate participants must complete five courses, including:
Union 101
 Communications and Information
Worksite Advocacy
Mobilization and Engagement
Political, Legislative, and Community Engagement



Additional trainings and assistance are available based on local need and demand. Examples of custom programs include: campaign and candidate training, social media, current legislative issues, and the teacher evaluation process.

questions? Contact Benita Twillie at btwillie@ift-aft.org or 630/468-4080.

Lee Ann Gemmingen

Southwestern Illinois Federation of Teachers, Local 6600

The LEAD training we received helped us to plan, strategize, and implement our ideas to move forward with our vision of building partnerships to educate, empower, and evolve.

George rosa

Elgin Community College Faculty Association, Local 3791

Understanding our contracts and how to defend them is more critical than ever. There is no better place to learn that than from experienced union staff and activists.

terri berg

Peoria Federation of Support Staff, Local 6099

Worksite Leader training helped me see
how important it is to establish one-on-one
connections with coworkers. I have so many new ideas now and plan to pursue a leadership position in my local.



Dates Coming Soon!
Online Event
Initial Teacher Evaluation Training
Designed to support unions as they implement a locally bargained appeals process, the IFT is currently adapting this state training to be delivered virtually this fall.
Mon, Aug 03
Webinar: Teaching to the Times (SOLD OUT)
This session will encourage the use of curriculum that is both restorative and academically rigorous. Culturally relevant curricula is a key component of trauma-informed pedagogy.
Wed, Jul 22
Webinar: Self-care Includes Advocating for Yourself (SOLD OUT)
This session will discuss trauma-informed strategies for how educators can be strong advocates for their students, their communities, and themselves.
Thu, Jul 09
Webinar: Self-care During Traumatic Times (SOLD OUT)
Session I of this series focuses on educator well-being. Educators will need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally well in order to support students and their families through these trying times.

Being a union member is the most effective way to advocate for yourself, your profession, and those you serve.

Now more than ever, it's important that your elected officials hear from you. Office visits and phone calls are the most effective way to have your voice heard.

Empower yourself. Check your voter registration status, register, find IFT-endorsed candidates, and other useful voter tools and resources.

Explore our centralized hub of current issue campaigns and find grassroots volunteer opportunities to take action on your own time.


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P.O. Box 390

Westmont, IL 60559

© 2020 Illinois Federation of Teachers.

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