Teachers (Parents, Students): You Can Be Your Own Best Advocates

It's the time of year when teachers start thinking about the coming year. What do they want to accomplish in the classroom in the coming year?

Cathy Fleischer, EMU Professor

Cathy Fleischer, EMU Professor

It's a good time, too, to reflect--whether you are a teacher, a parent, or a citizen--on what YOU want to advocate for over the coming year. 

Many teachers approach the topic of advocacy with a bittersweet feeling. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an article by Ashley Lamb-Sinclair: I'll ask a pilot how to fly a plane, not a CEO. Why won't policymakers listen to educators?

In order to change that dynamic, teachers need to find their voices. 

EMU Professor Cathy Fleischer has become an expert on coaching teachers to advocate for the issues that matter to them (you can take workshops or classes with her), and the National Council of Teachers of English has an Everyday Advocacy website that is worth perusing.

As the home page of the website states beautifully: 

We are teachers.  We know what happens in the worlds of schools.  So why isn’t anybody listening to us? Join us on this site as we explore ways to become advocates for teachers, for teaching, and for student learning. Learn how to enter the public conversation in ways that are smart, safe, and savvy.
Find your voice and help change the conversation. Become an everyday advocate.

The website coaches you through three core ideas:

  1. Storytelling as Advocacy
  2. Identifying and Framing an Issue
  3. Taking Action

It follows that up with details on how to create an Action Plan

NOTE: The Association for Library Service to Children also has a program called Everyday Advocacy. The website looks a lot different but the core idea is the same. They are asking people to Commit, Collaborate, and Contribute--to engage with their communities and advocate for libraries. Visit that website here.

The core ideas--identifying YOUR issues, taking action on them--resonate very much with Educate Ann Arbor's goals and focus. So if you feel like you need some inspiration or some tools to tackle tough issues around educational policy, know that whether you are a parent, teacher, student, or citizen (or most likely, more than one of these!)--you are not alone. 

Know that whatever topic is near and dear to your heart (school funding, equity, testing, language learning, libraries, governance, professional development...) there is plenty of work to be done.

As Fleischer writes, "Begin."

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