#13 What the Teacher's role in advocating? #Edblogaday

ad•vo•cate (ădˈvə-kātˌ)

v. To speak, plead, or argue in favor of.
n. One that argues for a cause; a supporter or defender.
n. One that pleads in another's behalf.

Advocating is an essential part of my teaching practice.  

As a newer teacher, I was in a high need school and my students needed a LOT- academically and social/emotionally.   I gave everything I had to them with out hesitation, because I saw that as my job and responsibility as a teacher.  I also had the energy to give to them that way.  There were years when I had kids who needed much stronger voices in their corners to help them achieve their goals and move forward.  There were other years when I had students who were very self-sufficient or had parents who were very present and took on that role.  

As I gained more experience, it became clear that I needed to shift my advocacy from students to colleagues, as new teachers entered the system and I was taking on school leadership roles and working as a mentor.  We had tricky dynamics in a small, new school and it often felt like an us vs. them relationship between teachers and administration, even though we were a small school.  It was complicated and moving between two worlds was challenging.

It continues to be challenging but I still think it is important to speak up for teachers.  I am in another new school- coming to the end of its third year- and we have a very young teaching staff.  We also got a new contract last year and these two things coupled together and being a new school sometimes feel like a perfect storm for teachers to be taken advantage of.  There have been moments this year when I did need to speak up for the staff as a whole making sure that things shift to protect teaches.  They do.  That is why I don't worry as much at this school as I did at my last.

We have also culled together a small army of Special Education teachers who are doing an amazing job of advocating for all our students whit IEP's, but it becomes about the kids who have slipped through, who don't have the provisions already in place, that need advocates.  I find myself fighting for these kids now and hoping that they can learn to advocate for themselves before they graduate and go onto college and/or career.

Today, then, my job is to model advocacy for students and teachers so both groups learn to speak up and speak out for what they believe, want and are passionate about and hope that they also learn to become advocates for others, an essential component of the human experience.


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