While the flourishing transdisciplinary field of futures studies has contributed to the production of educational
imaginaries and policy mobilizations, for a number of reasons these formal efforts largely reside in the hands of
those outside of the teaching profession. Through an analytical framework that maps the ways that teacher
organizations currently ‘use the future’, the paper explores the question: How can teacher unions engage with
the academic community to ensure that professional understanding shapes knowledge production and
governance in education? Teacher organizations face diverse operational and strategic challenges amidst the
growing precarity of public education globally. However, the core commitments of care and solidarity as counter
narratives to intensive capitalism offer an invitation to consider new ways of working with academia to ensure
that professional knowledge shapes knowledge production and governance in education. Such collaborations
also offer educational researchers opportunities to pursue impactful critical research with the teaching
profession and the communities it serves. Two case studies from the Union of Education Norway (UEN) illustrate
possibilities for teacher organizations to democratize educational futures: the development of a strategic plan
for research to redesign the profession’s relationship to research communities, and an international network of
schools to rethink teaching and learning in mathematics. Both case studies, as well as other nascent possibilities
on the horizon, illustrate how new approaches to futures thinking can help forge more sustained relationships
between teacher organizations and academia.