Saturday, October 29, 2016

Teacher Advocacy

I spent last year studying aspects of teacher leadership and advocacy, and as I try to use what I learn, I realize how difficult it can be.

For example, I am advocating for greater teamwork, inclusivity, transparency, and strategic process with regard to the work we do together to teach children well. My advocacy is based on the following beliefs and research:

  • We do better together: When teachers have the opportunity to utilize strategic process to learn with each other, coach one another, and make important decisions, we teach better. 
  • Teacher Voice and Choice Matter: There's a unique synergy of science and art when it comes to teaching well. The science depends on observation, data, reading, and research while the art depends on vision, passion, style, and relationships. It takes both to teach well. So while we use science to push each other forward, we also have to use art to respect each others' unique and important styles, experience, interests, gifts, and passion.
  • Strategic Process is Critical: Too often time for collaboration is wasted because we don't use strategic process to forward the best of what we can do together. Good strategic process relies on leveraging modern tools to support that process as well as clearly outlining process steps, roles, and expected outcomes. Typically these processes use backwards design, sensitive protocols, timelines, and more to effect good result.
  • Inclusion rather than Exclusion: A lot of time is wasted when information share is not inclusive. When information is shared via hearsay and conjecture rather than regular, thoughtful, inclusive share, problems often arise.
  • Transparency and Honesty: Most information related to teaching and learning well can be shared with transparency and honesty. It is often not complex information that demands secrecy, but instead important information that profits from honest, transparent share. 
  • Rationale is Required: When good rationale is included it helps everyone to sign on to and respond to information with greater care. Mandates without rationale often inspire worry, frustration, and struggle whereas decisions made in inclusive ways with good rationale support the best work we can do.
I am learning how to advocate. It's not easy to advocate from a teacher's perspective when there are many charged with leading the efforts and making decisions. Many educators say, "Keep quiet, don't speak up," but it's difficult for me to sit still when I see a better way as well as long for deep, professional, meaningful share, decision making, and discussion.

The move to greater educator leadership is supported by research, the new ESSA legislation, ECET2, and other agencies of teaching/learning empowerment. I will continue to seek ways to do this better. I will also work to actively listen to the naysayers and cull the learning that comes from their thoughts and ideas. As an educator, I don't have all the answers--no one does, but I do have some experience, knowledge, and understanding to bring to the table, and I think it's important that I do that in the best ways that I know how. Onward.