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Monday, February 23, 2015

How Do You Best Advocate for Students?

At times it can be difficult to advocate for students in schools.

Yet, isn't that at the center of our work as educators--advocacy for children?

If this is a main focus of our work, then why would it be challenging?  What stands in the way of student advocacy and care?

Though ironic, I think the reason that advocacy is, at times, challenging in the school setting is that advocacy presents a challenge to the status quo. When a child needs something more or different, it adds work, challenges current systems, invites "courageous conversations," and also makes us question our own work, experience, and vision.  "Why can't I solve this problem on my own," an educator may ask or be asked when a child needs more or different.

Another question that advocacy creates is "Is this issue important enough to make a change?"

Often when I'm prompted to advocate, I get a knot in my stomach.  I know I'll face lots of questions and challenge with regard to the advocacy. The questions and challenge make me rethink the reasons for advocacy and help me to determine if it's important enough to advocate more. Am I up to the challenge, I'll wonder. At times, my advocacy has not gone well, and that too contributes to this "knot in  my stomach" feeling.

How do you best advocate for students?

What systems in your organization help you to advocate with strength, timeliness, and support?

When do you make the decision to advocate?

What challenges prevent or hinder advocacy?

Is there a time when you advocated with success? What contributed to that success?

I'm thinking about this with greater detail today and I look forward to your thoughts.