GAINING INFLUENCE TAKES SMART TEACHER ADVOCACY PLANNING. Whether we seek mainly to build public understanding about teaching or to influence a specific educational policy, teacher advocacy planning should be thorough and strategic. Community organizers help us understand the elements needed to make an effort successful.
- Do the research needed to justify your argument.
- Be clear and focused about your objective. A laundry list of challenges can dilute your effort.
- Don’t do this alone. Talk with other key teachers to get their support, learn their concerns, adjust your plans as needed. Bring other groups on board as well. Officials will pay more attention to articulate parents and business people than to you as a teacher.
- Build your professional relationship with your principal. This can give you crucial protection and support so you don’t feel vulnerable when speaking up.
- Get outside help when you can – funds, consultants, expertise.
- Decide on the audience and/or decision-makers who will be most effective to speak to, and how to explain your position in terms that will appeal to them.
AN IMPORTANT STRATEGY QUESTION: Once you’ve identified an issue or policy of importance to you, to whom should you direct your comments? Where will they make the most impact?
USEFUL ADVOCACY GUIDES AND TOOLKITS
- Everyone At the Table – tools and strategies to help teachers use their voice in shaping thoughtful teacher evaluation policies.
- National Writing Project – NWP advocacytoolkit 112th congress updt
- New Organizing Institute – free online webinars on various aspects of organizing, for those serious about recruiting teachers, parents and/or community members and campaigning to achieve change.
- New Teacher Center Toolkit – focused on support for new teacher mentoring, but the strategies are useful for most efforts.
- SignOn.org – a website for launching online campaigns and petitions on public issues. Provides guidance and strategies as well as an actual site for conducting the effort. Learn to use this powerful tool for multiplying your voice!
AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF SUCCESS: A group of teachers, parents, and students testified to the New Hampshire Senate Education Committee to oppose a bill that would have banned IB programs from the state. Read about how they approached this at Education Week Curriculum Blog.
Tell us your story of advocacy success by commenting below.