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Tips for Advocating for the Teaching Profession

Tips for Advocating for the Teacher Profession

Right now is a good time for education advocates to get their word out—the policy changes occurring with the potential No Child Left Behind re-write and the opened-up conversation on education in the wake of the 2016 presidential election signify a dynamic time.

Nancy Gardner and Deidra Gammill are National Board Certified-teachers that also served as teacherpreneurs for the Center for Teaching Quality, and they shared with ASCD Smart Brief some sound advice for fellow educators on how to best advocate for change.

"As teacherpreneurs with the Center for Teaching Quality, both of us sought opportunities to meet with state leaders and initiate conversations about education policy. While our roles gave us structured time for this work, the five 'trade secrets' we share here can be adapted and used by any teacher who wants to advocate for the profession," they said.

For one, Gardner and Gammill recommend taking the first step to taking the lead in advocacy. This means paying attention to networking, holding group discussions with local politicians, and just in general taking the initiative to make the phone call or send the e-mail to start the conversation.

The two also suggest when conversing with policymakers to not just talk about a desired change but to also offer support. By encouraging a politician into two-way, open dialogue, conversations will become more productive and policymakers will be more likely to discuss.

Similarly, Gardner and Gammill warn against using too much "educationese" in conversations talking about desired change because policymakers might not understand or be as privy to acronyms.

Further, educators can become the best advocates by acknowledging the edge-up they have over policymakers— being in the classroom. Gardner and Gammill both say that policymakers they've met have wished to have more knowledge and experience in actual schools, something a good advocate can offer to them.

"Sharing your stories– explaining the implications of a policy on students’ and teachers’ daily lives — can make all the difference when a politician has to vote on the myriad bills coming his or her way," they said.

And most importantly, last but not least, the two educators advise education advocates to spend time fully thinking about an articulating his or her vision. By articulating this vision, discussion becomes easier and fluid and policymakers will likely call on your for input.

"When Deidra met with her representative, she wanted to know where lawmakers got their information on education issues, but she also wanted to share her vision for teachers becoming providers of that information. As a result, her representative asked for her help in forming an advisory committee to meet with him regularly while the legislature was in session," they said.

"Ultimately, we have to believe that teachers and politicians want the same thing: to improve the educational opportunities and experiences for all students and families. Although our worlds are vastly different, it’s time for us to reach out and start meaningful conversations."

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

08/03/2015

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