Advocacy takes Courage
A look at the local newspapers in recent days has a number of education issues in the headlines. Evaluations, state policy, finance, and elections are calls for all of us as professionals to let our voices be heard. As one of my mentors once told me “we need to tell our story.” There is a place for us to write, make phone calls, and lend our voices to the local, state, and national debate surrounding education. Conducting ourselves in a professional, articulate manner as we share the perspective of those who “do the work” requires us to be brave. To not overreact when we hear inaccurate statements, or to remain civil even in the face of those who fundamentally oppose what we believe to be the best feature of our democracy – our public education system.
My call today is to stay brave as we tell our story. But, it is also a call to show another kind of courage. The courage to set aside our efforts when it is time for our learners.
A few years ago, on the first day of school, I found a slip of paper on the floor of the 6th grade hallway. I still have it today:
The slip is a reminder of what’s important to our learners. Opening their lockers, having a teacher that will know their name and care about them, or having the opportunity to make friends are the top priorities of our students who will be in our classrooms soon. Lessons that they will find engaging matter to our learners, not how the state funds schools.
Make no mistake, advocacy matters, and our voices need to be heard. Let’s keep telling our stories, but also have the courage to put that work aside, sometimes for an hour, other times for an entire day, to make certain we’re focusing on why we all entered the profession, to do meaningful work with students.